Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Colorado Rockies plan to use “piggyback” four-man rotation in 2013

Piggies: eight arms to hold you.

On June 19, the Rockies were 25-40 and their starting pitchers were historically awful. At that point they switched to a four-man paired rotation, believing there was never a better time to examine the 75-pitch-limit model. Sixty-four games later, the Rockies have shown enough improvement that they will continue using a form of the four-man rotation moving into next season, according to general manager Dan O’Dowd…

Rather than four starters and three “piggyback” relievers, the Rockies ideally would like to employ an octopus: eight arms.

There would be four starters on a 75-pitch count and four “hybrid” pitchers, trained starters limited to 50 pitches. Two pitchers, in essence, would be asked to perform the previous job of a starter — get the team as deep as possible into a game… Relievers have been told that it could work with a right-hander starter followed by a left-handed piggybacker. And vice versa… The Rockies have discussed variations of the model, allowing for elasticity based on performance — if a starting pitcher emerges as an ace, he could work on a regular four-day rest schedule with more pitches at his disposal — but they seem committed to going forward with it…

the piggyback reliever doesn’t have to pitch after the starter. With left-handers Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier sandwiching Hanley Ramirez, Tracy used Matt Reynolds to put down the sixth inning.

This offered a glimpse into the future. If the Rockies use eight starters (four conventional, four hybrids), they could have two middlemen (such as Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino), a pair of setup arms and a closer. That would require carrying a 13-man staff, which could compromise the bench.

The District Attorney Posted: August 30, 2012 at 08:14 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rockies, strategy

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Dale Sams Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:16 PM (#4223132)
And a billion mlb radio jocks heads exploded...again.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4223133)
And a billion mlb radio jocks heads exploded...again.


I'm guessing nothing by hot air escaped from the explosion.
   3. ColonelTom Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:27 PM (#4223136)
Love it. If they choose personnel wisely, they might change the game. It will be fascinating to watch.
   4. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4223139)
And a billion mlb radio jocks heads exploded...again.


No one was injured.
   5. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:42 PM (#4223145)
the piggyback reliever doesn’t have to pitch after the starter. With left-handers Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier sandwiching Hanley Ramirez, Tracy used Matt Reynolds to put down the sixth inning.

Wow, I absolutely LOVE this part. Hook the starter and bring in a fireman LOOGY for a middle inning, then go to what's called here a 'hybrid' guy to get to the 9th. That is too cool.
   6. Boileryard Posted: August 30, 2012 at 10:19 PM (#4223170)
I'd like it better if the Rockies had also scrapped the closer role. With the team making such radical changes in how pitchers are used, it's a little surprising that they continue to use their best reliever primarily for save accumulation.
   7. Poster Nutbag Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4223208)
I was into Hardball Dynasty (What If Sports) pretty hardcore for a couple of years a while back. There was a theory about doing this that I talked about all the time and half-heartedly attempted once, then a friend of mine ended up utilizing the system religously and did an AMAZING job. Granted, this is a sim-type game we're talking about, but I will say I firmly believe that this could really work well if one had the right pitchers for the job (which, admittedly, is WAY easier in a game with ratings you can see). I will follow this very closely and am quite interested to see how it works out. Hope Z got to see this article.
   8. Austin Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4223210)
This is really interesting. What I worry about is this: if the starter gets torched or injured and comes out in, say, the first inning, then what's their plan to finish out the game? Are they going to let their piggyback guy for the day go past fifty pitches, or are they going to burn both setup men and their closer for multiple innings? Will they have to use two piggybackers? Will they just let their starter get lit up for eleven runs if that's what gets him to 75 pitches? Not to mention the frightening prospect of a 15-inning game! As excited as I am to see a team apparently committed to something really unconventional, I do worry about the lack of flexibility that seems to result.
   9. Ebessan Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM (#4223217)
I'd like it better if the Rockies had also scrapped the closer role.
Two setup pitchers? Just picked an NL game at random: the Giants, in their win, used 142 pitches. If the goal is to get 110-130 pitches out of your first two pitchers, how much pitching would the setup men actually do?
   10. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4223223)
This article probably boosted Jack Morris' HOF vote total for next year.
   11. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM (#4223230)
#5

I was thinking the same thing. Imagine a world where you would actually use your best pitcher available for that particular situation? An earth shattering discovery!
   12. Poster Nutbag Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:12 AM (#4223240)
#8

Our way was to make sure one of the two "middle" guys was a swingman/long man as opposed to a general RP. The type that can do both, like a Kyle Kendrick/Travis Blackley-type.
   13. jayjay Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:43 AM (#4223254)
I'm all for using your best relievers in the highest leverage situations.

However, I can't imagine a strategy is a good one if you're actively hopeful to add Kyle Kendrick/Travis Blackley types.
   14. morineko Posted: August 31, 2012 at 01:05 AM (#4223262)
I know I joked about "wouldn't it be cool to have a staff of nothing but relief pitchers" but I didn't expect anyone to take me seriously!
   15. Austin Posted: August 31, 2012 at 02:29 AM (#4223279)
#12 - Thanks. Something else that might prove troublesome is that the twelfth and thirteenth pitchers are likely to be quite bad, especially as the season progresses and the injuries rack up. And as the article mentions, a National League team with only three bench players is going to risk being forced to have a reliever hit for himself in a crucial situation.

One other thing - if/when someone gets injured, how do they fill the gap? Is the AAA team going to be using a similar rotation plan? I doubt it's very easy for a pitcher to switch from a five/six-day routine to a four/five-day routine on short notice if he's called up.
   16. drdr Posted: August 31, 2012 at 04:05 AM (#4223291)
I would like another variation of this, one probably more suited for richer clubs:
4 pairs of starters, going 4-5 innings. One starts, the other gets in after 4, 5 if starter is really efficient. Next turn, they change places.
Two relievers capable of pitching 9th, or going between starters, if starter is pulled in the middle of an inning.
One reliever capable of going 5 innings, for extras and injuries.
AAA - someone capable of replacing one of starters or relievers in case of injury. (nice option is if you have two AAA guys with options who you can use so that every time LR is tired, he goes down and the other one takes his place).
Also, 4-day rotation means pitch - rest - throw day - rest - pitch, and starters are capable of throwing one inning on their throwing day.
Added bonus: 11 pitchers means 14 position players - extended bench.
   17. OsunaSakata Posted: August 31, 2012 at 06:41 AM (#4223300)
Is it necessary to use such an extreme strategy even for Rockies road games? Even in pitchers parks in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco?
   18. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 06:45 AM (#4223301)
I think they'd probably say they have to commit to this full-on in order to give it a chance to work, and not just keep flipping back and forth.

I don't know if you do have to commit to it like that, but I don't think anybody knows anything about how it's going to play out. I know it's fascinating.
   19. Elvis Posted: August 31, 2012 at 07:39 AM (#4223315)
Glad to hear that they are doing this next year. I was hoping that the pitch limit would be hire for all starters, not just an ace. After doing this for half a year and then having all offseason to prepare, I was hoping the pitch count would go up 10-15 in Year 2 of the plan.
   20. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 07:47 AM (#4223318)
FWIW, as we head into September, the Rockies still don't have a single pitcher who's thrown 100+ innings this year. Among pitchers who will pitch again for the team this year, Jeff Francis is at 82.2, Alex White has 77, and Josh Roenicke has 76.1.

I sort of hope nobody reaches 100.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: August 31, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4223323)
Rox overall, starters, relievers, ERA by month

April 4.57, 5.03, 3.84
May 5.66, 6.50, 4.27
June 5.88, 7.57, 4.24
July 5.16, 6.39, 3.71
Aug 4.70, 4.33, 5.07

I'm not seeing the miracle here. August has been a pretty good month but so what?
   22. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: August 31, 2012 at 08:47 AM (#4223353)
Piggies: eight arms to hold you.

I told you before, you can't do that!
   23. BDC Posted: August 31, 2012 at 09:28 AM (#4223384)
Piggyback sounds like a great strategy, but I'm pretty sure the rules require the guy delivering the ball actually to have his foot on the rubber. I mean, you get a guy up top, he's like eleven feet tall then, and his motion would be a killer, but is it legal?
   24. bobm Posted: August 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4223555)
[21] They seem to be sucking less, but there has been a big drop in BAbip. July was almost identical to April otherwise.

                                                              
Split           PA SO/BB   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
April/March    864  2.19 .284 .344 .461 .805  .323    94   126
May           1120  2.14 .303 .375 .485 .860  .365   108   135
June          1096  2.10 .309 .373 .542 .915  .346   120   149
July           911  2.13 .276 .338 .461 .800  .305    93   118
August        1083  1.70 .260 .336 .410 .746  .291    81   107


http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/split.cgi?t=p&team=COL&year=2012
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4223610)
Don't like it.

I think it's a good idea for the 4th/5th SP spots, but you're never going to develop or attract (FA) any really good SPs limiting them to 75 pitches.

I'd go with 3 regular starters, 4 SPs/long-men used in the 4/5 spots based on matchups, and 4 short-RPs.
   26. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4223632)
I sure hope for the Rockies sake that they have a bunch of good young pitchers in the pipeline and a really good development system.

Because you are never, ever going to get a top flight free agent pitcher to agree to sign on to take part in this cockamamie system.

EDIT: And snapper beat me to my point.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4223640)
Considering that the Rockies have stated in the article/excerpt that if an ace emerges that they will have no problem modifying the pattern to fit that ace, I don't see a problem with that.

The Rockies are going to have a problem landing top flight talent, because it's Colorado.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4223647)
Considering that the Rockies have stated in the article/excerpt that if an ace emerges that they will have no problem modifying the pattern to fit that ace, I don't see a problem with that.

How will they know if they have an ace if they never let him pitch past the 5th? Do they plan to stretch out guys who still look good at 75 pitches? I don't see how you do that in this construct.
   29. DCA Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4223654)
20. Corey Klübermensch (Dan Lee) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 07:47 AM (#4223318)

FWIW, as we head into September, the Rockies still don't have a single pitcher who's thrown 100+ innings this year. Among pitchers who will pitch again for the team this year, Jeff Francis is at 82.2, Alex White has 77, and Josh Roenicke has 76.1.

I sort of hope nobody reaches 100.


This. Please please please.

   30. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4223661)
How will they know if they have an ace if they never let him pitch past the 5th? Do they plan to stretch out guys who still look good at 75 pitches? I don't see how you do that in this construct.


If they sign a guy to be an ace, they will let him start the season in a traditional pattern. If a guy constantly goes 5 innings with a 2.00 era or less, they will probably be willing to stretch him out also. The great thing about what the Rockies are doing is that they seem pretty reasonable with willing to modify it based upon the circumstances that pop up.
   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4223677)
How will they know if they have an ace if they never let him pitch past the 5th? Do they plan to stretch out guys who still look good at 75 pitches? I don't see how you do that in this construct.


I think the assumption that they will not be flexible about that is a bit off-base, considering that they specifically state that they will be flexible about that.

It seems to make a certain amount of sense for a team in their position. They don't have anyone that has really demonstrated that he can be consistently effective in a standard SP role at the MLB level. Given that pitching well tends to be easier for those asked to pitch less, it might let them get more effective innings out of a collection of AAAA pitchers. And it might also be a decent way to develop your young pitchers if you are forced to rush them to the majors because your MLB roster sucks.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4223702)
I think the assumption that they will not be flexible about that is a bit off-base, considering that they specifically state that they will be flexible about that.

It seems to make a certain amount of sense for a team in their position. They don't have anyone that has really demonstrated that he can be consistently effective in a standard SP role at the MLB level. Given that pitching well tends to be easier for those asked to pitch less, it might let them get more effective innings out of a collection of AAAA pitchers. And it might also be a decent way to develop your young pitchers if you are forced to rush them to the majors because your MLB roster sucks.


OK, but if you're going to be flexible, why not just let guys pitch as long as they're effective.

If you're going to be flexible with the 75 and 50 pitch limits, you're basically just saying we're willing to have a quick hook on SPs, b/c we've got a bunch of long relievers.
   33. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 31, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4223799)
If you're going to be flexible with the 75 and 50 pitch limits, you're basically just saying we're willing to have a quick hook on SPs, b/c we've got a bunch of long relievers.


Or saying that we don't want to leave starters in long enough to lose effectiveness, even if they lose effectiveness at ~75 pitches, so we're going to make sure we've got a bunch of long relievers, and we're going to make sure our long relievers get regular work.
   34. puck Posted: August 31, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4223810)
OK, but if you're going to be flexible, why not just let guys pitch as long as they're effective.

If you're going to be flexible with the 75 and 50 pitch limits, you're basically just saying we're willing to have a quick hook on SPs, b/c we've got a bunch of long relievers.

I think it's a matter of emphasis and general procedure. The pitchers expect to be in a 4-man rotation and have a 75-pitch limit. Guys who are pitching well may be allowed to exceed the 75-pitch limit--they've done that this year from time to time and the pitcher was usually given an extra day of rest (that is, 4 days). However, even under the 4-man, the starters have been so horrible, it hasn't come up that often.

They've put a lot of emphasis on how the pitch limit generally keeps the guy from going through the order a 3rd time, but that seems to vary a lot by pitcher--Francis has at least started a 3rd time through the order (and the 1st half of the order are the guys you'd think they'd want to avoid) a bunch of times.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 31, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4223815)
However, even under the 4-man, the starters have been so horrible, it hasn't come up that often.

Yeah, well if all you have is shitty pitchers, no system is going to work.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
1k5v3L
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT: Politics, August 2014: DNC criticizes Christie’s economic record with baseball video
(4576 - 12:30am, Aug 21)
Last: kthejoker

NewsblogOT August 2014:  Wrassle Mania I
(45 - 12:20am, Aug 21)
Last: Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge

NewsblogLester return to Boston a long shot; Cubs, Yankees are likely players
(16 - 12:16am, Aug 21)
Last: OCD SS

NewsblogBrisbee: The 10 most underrated players in baseball, part 2
(11 - 12:11am, Aug 21)
Last: Moeball

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8-20-2014
(109 - 11:50pm, Aug 20)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip

NewsblogGiants plan to protest bizarre loss at Wrigley
(75 - 11:49pm, Aug 20)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogBrewers Form Creative Council
(7 - 11:48pm, Aug 20)
Last: Spahn Insane

Newsblog[Ubaldo] Jimenez to the bullpen
(17 - 11:36pm, Aug 20)
Last: DKDC

NewsblogCurt Schilling Reveals He Was Diagnosed With Mouth Cancer in February, Believes Chewing Tobacco Was the Cause
(28 - 11:35pm, Aug 20)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogPosnanski: The Royals might actually know what they are doing
(39 - 11:28pm, Aug 20)
Last: SoSHially Unacceptable

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - August 2014
(277 - 11:18pm, Aug 20)
Last: outl13r

NewsblogJohn Torres: MLB's new boss better not whiff on sport's future
(5 - 11:11pm, Aug 20)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogPlenty of Pete Rose ahead on ESPN
(33 - 11:09pm, Aug 20)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8-19-2014
(74 - 10:24pm, Aug 20)
Last: Bunny Vincennes

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread August, 2014
(445 - 8:57pm, Aug 20)
Last: J. Sosa

Page rendered in 0.2212 seconds
52 querie(s) executed