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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Denver Post: Reeling Rockies go with unconventional four-man rotation

Just when you thought the Rockies had run out of plans to try:

In a season defined by surprises and disappointment, Jim Tracy provided both Tuesday, explaining that Jeremy Guthrie was going to the bullpen and that the team was moving forward with four starters on a 75-pitch count.

...The defining moment, with the beaker fizzing, will arrive when a starter actually performs well. But Tracy insisted that even if a starter is working a shutout, he will be removed at roughly 75 pitches.

“He has got to come out, because he has to pitch four days later,” Tracy said. “But if he goes five innings, he has pitched you to the point where you can go to a bullpen with some very significant people.”

First night of experiment fails in 7-2 loss to Phillies.

Josh Outman started and allowed 4 runs in 4.1 innings.  He was pulled after 72 pitches.

puck Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:31 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rockies

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   1. adenzeno Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:08 AM (#4161799)
I have long wondered why someone did not try this. With Starters essentially limited to 100 pitches now, I have never understood the reluctance to have a 4 man rotation. I applaud this idea and hope it works. To quote/paraphrase Earl Weaver, "It is easier to find 4 good starters than 5"
   2. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:21 AM (#4161800)
I don't think 4 pitchers limited to 75 pitches is the kind of 4-man rotation you had in mind there, #1.
   3. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4161802)
When LaRussa killed off his three-man, three inning rotation back in '93, his next move was to a four-man rotation with the starters limited to 70-80 pitches per start.
   4. Dave Spiwak Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4161952)
What's next? A 3-man rotation with a 50 pitch cap? A 2-man with a 25 pitch cap? Will anyone dare to institute a 1-man with a 0 pitch cap?
   5. Swedish Chef Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4161966)
They could have a gaggle of pitchers combining to throw the first three innings, seldom more than an inning per man, and a rotation of five closers that takes turn finishing off the last six innings.
   6. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4161971)
Will anyone dare to institute a 1-man with a 0 pitch cap?

I'm pretty sure Blue Jays fans would be happy if the Jays gave Francisco Cordero a 0-pitch cap.
   7. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4162005)
But if he goes five innings, he has pitched you to the point where you can go to a bullpen with some very significant people.”


Who are these "very significant people"? Henry Kissinger? Mark Zuckerberg? Barbara Feldon?
   8. DL from MN Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4162007)
This is why roster expansion is a bad idea. We already have 13 man pitching staffs. Add another roster slot and we'll see 14 man pitching staffs. Then figure in the roster machinations teams use to shuttle players back and forth to AAA to get extra innings from their pitching staff. I swear the only reason we have 5 inning starting pitchers is the stupid "W" statistic. If they expand the roster to 27 players I fully expect to hear some manager say "Lefty McPitcher is really more of a 4th inning guy, not a setup lefty".
   9. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4162022)
Will anyone dare to institute a 1-man with a 0 pitch cap?

This is going to be the Nationals's system once Strasburg reaches whatever his supposed innings limit is.
   10. puck Posted: June 20, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4162042)
Who are these "very significant people"? Henry Kissinger? Mark Zuckerberg? Barbara Feldon?


Moscoso, Josh Roenicke, Ottavino, Guthrie (I guess). There's no Esmil Rogers to kick around any more...
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4162046)
Who are these "very significant people"? Henry Kissinger? Mark Zuckerberg? Barbara Feldon?


A 99-pitch cap?
   12. DL from MN Posted: June 20, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4162048)
How are the Nats going to deal with Strasburg in the playoffs?
   13. Zipperholes Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4162080)
Why in the world do managers announce their game plans to the world? Not so much the 4-man rotation, but for example, a pitch count. It might rarely provide a benefit to the oppponent, but it's possible. If I'm the Phillies and have Thome on the bench, and we're facing a lefty starter, now I have a pretty good idea of when I'll be able to get him in the game. Same with announcing 7th-8th-9th inning roles. It would be like Erik Spoelstra announcing before the game that Lebron will rest for the last five minutes of the third quarter. Why would you do this?
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4162084)
The Royals had 14 pitchers on the roster yesterday. Has anyone ever carried 15 (under 25 man limits of course).
   15. ColonelTom Posted: June 20, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4162141)
They're still carrying only 12 pitchers, even after the announcement. Even with a 5-man rotation, their bullpen has been carrying a heavy load (20% above the NL average relief innings):

Josh Roenicke (2.85 ERA) is on pace for 76 relief appearances and 101 IP.
Matt Belisle (2.25 ERA) is on pace for 81 appearances and 88.1 IP.
Adam Ottavino (3.20 ERA) is on pace for 79 appearances and 97 IP between the minors and majors.
Rafael Betancourt (3.00 ERA) is the closer and has pitched exactly 1 inning in each of his 24 appearances this year.
Matt Reynolds (3.77 ERA) and Rex Brothers (4.24 ERA) are largely LOOGYs and probably won't pitch much more than in the past.

Unless they're planning to run the first 3 guys into the ground, they'll need to add at least a 13th pitcher and use guys like Guillermo Moscoso (6.75 ERA), Jeremy Guthrie (7.02 ERA), and perhaps Jason Bergmann (just signed from the independent leagues) to soak up the additional innings. That's not exactly a recipe for improvement. They'd be better off signing someone like Livan Hernandez as a fifth starter. At least he's durable and has recently shown the ability to get past the 6th inning (6.05 IP per start last year), a feat that Rockies starters have only managed in 2 of the last 16 games.
   16. Karl from NY Posted: June 20, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4162218)
Why in the world do managers announce their game plans to the world?

To dodge the second guessing. You don't have to answer "Blah blah you used John Smith here and it blew up how could you not anticipate that?" if you already made and announced the decision ahead of time.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 20, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4162225)
ColonelTom, you'll notice all those relievers have been pretty good; the bullpen is easily the best facet of the team at this point. I'm sure that's part of Tracy's thinking, is that he should rely even more heavily on his best pitchers. I hope he starts using Betancourt in more than just save situations, since the Rockies very rarely have a save situation. And he'll probably use Brothers, who is seen as the closer-in-waiting, a lot more too.

I hope we'll see Drew Pomeranz back in the majors soon. I expect we'll make it through the four-man rotation once before Pomeranz is recalled. Despite the fact that he got sent back to AAA, Pomeranz still has the lowest ERA of anyone who's started a game for the Rockies this year.
   18. Zipperholes Posted: June 20, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4162272)
Unless they're planning to run the first 3 guys into the ground, they'll need to add at least a 13th pitcher
Is there any evidence that relievers pitching more innings and/or more frequently would be harmful?

I don't know what the evidence says, but if I were a manager I'd use guys for longer outings and less frequently than teams do. Taking your starter out after 5 in a 7-1 game, and then having four different guys each throw a bunch of warm up pitches and throw a 12-pitch inning is absurd.
   19. Bruce Markusen Posted: June 20, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4162289)
Good lord, a 75-pitch limit. Please, stop the Little League treatment of major league pitchers!

If MLB teams ever decide to expand the rosters, they need to put a cap on the number of pitchers that can be included on the roster. Sort of like the NFL says you can only have two QBs on gameday, assuming that that rule is still in play.
   20. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: June 20, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4162298)
Good lord, a 75-pitch limit. Please, stop the Little League treatment of major league pitchers!
Did you even read the part that they're switching, in the middle of the season, to a 4-man rotation? Would you think it wise to do that suddenly *and* let them throw their normal allotment of pitches as well?
   21. Zipperholes Posted: June 20, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4162306)
Benji, email me. Your BTF mail doesn't work.
   22. The District Attorney Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4162373)
Jim Tracy is my new hero. This is weird.

(Although, yeah, I was thinking more like 90.)
   23. ColonelTom Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:54 PM (#4162395)
Tonight's starter, Alex White, exited with a man on third and two out in the 4th - exactly 75 pitches. Matt Reynolds let the run score on a double. White's line (don't do it):

3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR (by Michael Martinez)

On the Philly TV broadcast, Sarge said he didn't believe "for a minute" that this was Jim Tracy's idea, and added that pitchers won't want to pitch for Colorado if they're treated like this night in and night out.
   24. Squash Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4162399)
Did you even read the part that they're switching, in the middle of the season, to a 4-man rotation? Would you think it wise to do that suddenly *and* let them throw their normal allotment of pitches as well?

You are forgetting the part that now whenever pitch counts come up every Primate must immediately start ######## about them and babyfication, regardless of nuance.

To address the point of longer games, what really bugs people isn't so much the number of pitchers on the roster or how many are used in a game as it the number of changes within innings. The solution then would seem to be to limit the number of pitchers one can use in an inning, either that you can only make x number of changes in an inning or require that all pitchers entering must pitch to a minimum of two batters (three would be best, but would never pass). That would at least reduce LOOGY usage. To remove players faking injuries to come out, although I don't think that would happen very often as you can really only pull that once or twice, you could say that any pitcher removed from a game due to injury had to miss the next game or two games. These rules would never pass, but that's the kind of stuff they should be going for.
   25. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4162400)
Who are these "very significant people"? Henry Kissinger? Mark Zuckerberg? Barbara Feldon?


These guys
   26. Zipperholes Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4162445)
On the Philly TV broadcast, Sarge said he didn't believe "for a minute" that this was Jim Tracy's idea, and added that pitchers won't want to pitch for Colorado if they're treated like this night in and night out.
Good. It will weed out who wants to win and who's interested in personal stats.
   27. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4162446)
Who are these "very significant people"? Henry Kissinger? Mark Zuckerberg? Barbara Feldon?

missed it by THAT much
   28. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:09 PM (#4162465)

Tonight's starter, Alex White, exited with a man on third and two out in the 4th - exactly 75 pitches. Matt Reynolds let the run score on a double.


What's interesting is that Jeremy Guthrie, who's been horrible as a starter, came in as a reliever and pitched three perfect innings. Well, one guy reached on an error, but he faced ten batters and gave up no hits and no walks.

   29. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4162475)
...and the Rockies just lost 7-6, giving up two runs on the bottom of the ninth. The last two plays of the game, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, were both routine grounders to shortstop Marco Scutaro, who made back-to-back bad throws to first.
   30. PreservedFish Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4162477)
You know, I hope this goes well, just because it's strange. But I don't expect it to.

Tonight's starter, Alex White, exited with a man on third and two out in the 4th - exactly 75 pitches.


The 5th inning guy is going to poach a lot of wins. And the starters are going to be really really pissed.
   31. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4162505)
It's the Rockies. There aren't going to be "a lot of wins."
   32. ColonelTom Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4162508)
If Tracy really wants to go "outside the box," the Rockies actually would have the personnel to pull a 4-pair tandem-starter approach when Nicasio, Chacin, and Pomeranz return.  They could even employ righty/lefty tandems to thwart teams that use platoons:

Nicasio (R) and Friedrich (L)
Guthrie (R) and Outman (L)
Chacin (R) and Reynolds (L)
White (R) and Pomeranz (L)

The tandem-starter approach also allows them to flip who starts each game, minimizing complaints about who gets the win.  (No, win totals shouldn't matter, but they do when these guys go to arbitration or hit the free-agent market.)

With 8 guys committed to tandem, that leaves them with a 5-man pen:
Betancourt (R), Brothers (L), Belisle (R), Roenicke (R), Ottavino (R)

That leaves only 4 bench slots, but since their 3B (Pacheco) can also play catcher, Tracy can use his backup catcher (Hernandez) as a PH, minimizing the loss of a bench player.  They even have some pitchers who can hit a little (Pomeranz, Outman, and to a lesser extent Chacin) and could PH occasionally.

If Tracy actually tried something like that, he'd be breaking ground and might accomplish something. For now, he's just rearranging the deck chairs.
   33. JJ1986 Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4162511)
Nicasio (R) and Friedrich (L)
Guthrie (R) and Outman (L)
Chacin (R) and Reynolds (L)
White (R) and Pomeranz (L)


I like the idea, but isn't Reynolds a short reliever?
   34. Ebessan Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4162512)
The solution then would seem to be to limit the number of pitchers one can use in an inning, either that you can only make x number of changes in an inning or require that all pitchers entering must pitch to a minimum of two batters (three would be best, but would never pass).

I like "you can only pull a pitcher mid-inning if he's allowed a run" as the rule.
   35. ColonelTom Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:58 PM (#4162513)
Yes, Reynolds is a short man, but he is horribly miscast as a LOOGY (check his splits). I doubt they'd try to stretch him as a tandem starter, but it's worth a thought. They'd probably keep him in the pen and use Roenicke or Ottavino (both righties) in that tandem instead.
   36. thetailor Posted: June 21, 2012 at 01:50 AM (#4162530)
I don't get the hand-wringing. Yeah, it's DIFFERENT.

But 75 pitches every four days is not demonstrably different than 110 pitches every five days, except for the pitcher throwing them.

I didn't ready TFA, but did they say what will happen to the throw days in between?
   37. Ron J Posted: June 21, 2012 at 07:24 AM (#4162553)
#18 Pretty sure it was Brock Hanke who researched the matter. I do recall reading that most pitchers who top 70 appearances/110 IP:

a) regress the next year (no surprise there of course. Only pitchers with great results get that kind of workload. Some of these will have been getter better results than their talent will support)

b) have a high rate of serious injury

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