Author Topic: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?  (Read 2145 times)

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Offline Wheat

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Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Topic Start: June 13, 2012, 08:57:57 AM »
First thread I'm starting here....and will probably a rare occasion (I'm sure you'll appreciate it). But what is the history of using a 5 man rotation in baseball? I understand that having somebody like Strasburg skipping starts or having a 6th guy would change the routine for your whole staff. But is there a reason why one extra days rest is a bad thing for everybody?

If I had to guess, it would be because most teams don't have 5 guys they'd be willing to start. Is there any other reason why this is a bad idea? Wouldn't a 6th guy help both Strass and Zimm pick deeper into the season if needed? If you get Storen back and Lidge can find his stuff. Then you'd got a deeper pen and don't need Ross there really. Yes, your 5th and 6th starters aren't the best. But is it bad?

Not being sarcastic, just genuinely curious.

Offline machpost

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #1: June 13, 2012, 09:08:08 AM »
I think it mostly has to do with the belief that five days is the ideal amount of rest for a starting pitcher's arm.

Offline GMUNat

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #2: June 13, 2012, 09:08:47 AM »
Why exactly do you want Detwiler taking away starts from Gio, JZ, and Edwin?

Offline Minty Fresh

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #3: June 13, 2012, 09:09:32 AM »
It's largely a belief held by years of experience.  Used to be that pitchers would start more games and pitch more innings but over time they spread out the starts and the innings to save arms.  Now it's just the widely held practice.

Online Baseball is Life

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #4: June 13, 2012, 09:13:56 AM »
Why exactly do you want Detwiler taking away starts from Gio, JZ, and Edwin?

This. You are taking away starts from your best pitchers so you can supposedly help one pitcher (Stras).

Offline Wheat

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #5: June 13, 2012, 09:25:51 AM »
taking starts away is a far reason. I guess when you have two guys on your staff that are being monitored with Zimm 2 years removed from surgery and Strass 1 year, that would be something worth considering. No?

Going from 32.4 starts on average per pitcher to 27 does seem like a lot though.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #6: June 13, 2012, 09:45:07 AM »
It developed over time.  Used to be in the 60s and 70s (I don't know how long before that) that 4 man rotations were standard.  a 5th starter was really just a spot starter.  Throwing regimes used to be geared towards starting on 3 days rest.  I think the first team to move to 5 starters was the Dodgers, and that was a bit similar to the situation the Nats are in now. They had an extra quality starter they wanted to give regular work to.  It also used to be that teams preferred smaller pitching staffs and longer benches. 

With expansion, there are fewer quality arms per team, so there is a big incentive to concentrate innings in your best pitchers.  The reason you here people saying "he's a #3 starter at best, more likely a back of the rotation type" is sort of a short hand for an estimation of the quallity of the pitcher.  To make up for the shortage in quality starters, teams went to longer bullpens and staffs.  Used to be, 4 man rotation, 1 spot starter / long man, and 5 or 6 relievers were common.  Now 7 man bullpens are the standard.  More relief specialists make up for the lack of quality starting arms. 

Most teams do not have aces, and when you have 2 aces and a couple of guys who could be #1 to #3 starters on all but the best rotations, there is a huge incentive to concentrate the innings in Strasburg, Gio, JZ, and Jackson.  These guys are used to throwing every 5th or 6th day, so you don't want to mess up their tuning.  Adding a 6th starter reduces your top 4 pitchers innings from 180 - 210 to 150 or so.  While Stras is innings capped, you don't want to pull that many innings away from Gio / JZ / Jax.  While we are unusual in that we have an innings limited ace and 5th and 6th starters that are rotation worthy, davey probably does not want to go with a 6 man bullpen and sacrifice a multi-inning reliever.  That means we'd need a 13 man staff, and that really does not work well in the NL because it limits your bench to 3 subs and your 2d catcher.

 

Offline Wheat

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #7: June 13, 2012, 10:15:55 AM »
It developed over time.  Used to be in the 60s and 70s (I don't know how long before that) that 4 man rotations were standard.  a 5th starter was really just a spot starter.  Throwing regimes used to be geared towards starting on 3 days rest.  I think the first team to move to 5 starters was the Dodgers, and that was a bit similar to the situation the Nats are in now. They had an extra quality starter they wanted to give regular work to.  It also used to be that teams preferred smaller pitching staffs and longer benches. 

With expansion, there are fewer quality arms per team, so there is a big incentive to concentrate innings in your best pitchers.  The reason you here people saying "he's a #3 starter at best, more likely a back of the rotation type" is sort of a short hand for an estimation of the quallity of the pitcher.  To make up for the shortage in quality starters, teams went to longer bullpens and staffs.  Used to be, 4 man rotation, 1 spot starter / long man, and 5 or 6 relievers were common.  Now 7 man bullpens are the standard.  More relief specialists make up for the lack of quality starting arms. 

Most teams do not have aces, and when you have 2 aces and a couple of guys who could be #1 to #3 starters on all but the best rotations, there is a huge incentive to concentrate the innings in Strasburg, Gio, JZ, and Jackson.  These guys are used to throwing every 5th or 6th day, so you don't want to mess up their tuning.  Adding a 6th starter reduces your top 4 pitchers innings from 180 - 210 to 150 or so.  While Stras is innings capped, you don't want to pull that many innings away from Gio / JZ / Jax.  While we are unusual in that we have an innings limited ace and 5th and 6th starters that are rotation worthy, davey probably does not want to go with a 6 man bullpen and sacrifice a multi-inning reliever.  That means we'd need a 13 man staff, and that really does not work well in the NL because it limits your bench to 3 subs and your 2d catcher.

 

Nice breakdown, thank you.

Offline comish4lif

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #8: June 13, 2012, 10:31:29 AM »
One other thing that I would add to the discussion. In today's game, where you have a 5 man rotation at the MLB level, you have the entire Minor League program designed to work guys up from their HS and College schedules into a 5 man rotation. You have to get the pitchers into their rhythm and working on their throwing program in their off days so that they are ready to throw 6-7 MLB innings every 5 turns. If you decide to go to a 6 man rotation, you wouldn't just be giving everyone an extra day's rest, you'd need to make sure that their offday programs were adjusted to maximize the rest while at the same time, having them throw enough to stay sharp.

It's not something you would just look down to bullpen or around your clubhouse and be able to change at a whim.

Offline MorseTheHorse

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #9: June 13, 2012, 10:38:51 AM »
Why exactly do you want Detwiler taking away starts from Gio, JZ, and Edwin?

b/c playoff games>>>reg season games in importance?

Yes, we'd have one less bat on the bench, but remember how good some of our starting pitchers are at hitting.  At the plate is Stras or Jackson really a huge downgrade from Xavier Nady? 

The whole they couldn't adjust to 5 days off in between starts arguments is bogus.  They have 5 days off between at least a third of their starts b/c of off days or rainouts already. 

Offline MorseTheHorse

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #10: June 13, 2012, 10:40:13 AM »
the 1/3 figure is a total mindfact.  I'd bet it's a bit more, but I felt confident saying 1/3 without looking anything up. 

Offline Wheat

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #11: June 13, 2012, 10:43:46 AM »
I do wonder if it'll take some team with balls to just go for it. I know its totally different, but when we had the pitcher hitting 8th and folks talked about how rare it was even though it appeared to be working before Davey shut it down. Somebody will just do it.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #12: June 13, 2012, 11:43:55 AM »
At one point, I thought they could have done 5.5 starters to give Stras, primarily, but also occasional JZ and eventually Wang 5 days rest at least every 3d start.  This looked doable at the start of the year. Of course, with Wang's delayed start, that was unnecessary.  I do think there is an advantage to planning when you drop in a spot start so that your games not pitched by your first four pitchers are concentrated in the 5th and best non-rotation starter.  I would not want to have Detwiler and Lannan and maybe Gorzo or Rosenbaum pitching lots of turns in August and September because Stras has hit his innings cap, CMW is sore, and JZ is gassed a bit.   There are really only two "horse" types in the rotation - Jackson and Gonzalez.  The others will be pushed pretty hard or shut down.   Planning off days and giving Det extra starts occasionally to prevent wear and tear on others makes some sense.  I just don't think a 6 man, all the time, rotation optimizes the innings.

Offline comish4lif

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #13: June 13, 2012, 12:04:33 PM »
I do wonder if it'll take some team with balls to just go for it. I know its totally different, but when we had the pitcher hitting 8th and folks talked about how rare it was even though it appeared to be working before Davey shut it down. Somebody will just do it.


To quote JCA - a 6 man rotation does not optimize innings.

I'm not sure it would take balls to do it. I don't see the benefit of giving 25 starts to your 6th best starter. And taking away ~5 starts from your top 2-3 starters. Would you rather have 15 starts from Stras/Zimm'nn/Gio - or 15 from Detwiler?

Online Slateman

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #14: June 13, 2012, 12:05:53 PM »
b/c playoff games>>>reg season games in importance?

Yes, we'd have one less bat on the bench, but remember how good some of our starting pitchers are at hitting.  At the plate is Stras or Jackson really a huge downgrade from Xavier Nady? 

The whole they couldn't adjust to 5 days off in between starts arguments is bogus.  They have 5 days off between at least a third of their starts b/c of off days or rainouts already. 

We would get, at most, 28 starts out of Strasburg with this inning limits. That means he might pitch until the end of the season. Then we have to consider whether or not to exceed that limit to throw him in the playoffs.

Offline welch

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #15: June 13, 2012, 12:14:25 PM »
I had half-finished a post complimenting the original question and the thoughtful answers. I'd been about to ask this a few weeks ago.

- Did some random checking of lineups through Baseball Reference. I remember that "traditional" roster had 10 pitchers and 15 field players.

- (There was a spat of time [mid-70s?] when the owners colluded to hold rosters to 24 players so they could pay fewer ML salaries. Each team was afraid to break the unpublished agreement, even when they all needed that extra player.)

- '86 Mets had four starters

- '92 Yankees had 4 starters

- 1970 Orioles shocked the baseball world when all four starters won 20 games...Plamer, McNally, Pat Dobson, and probably Mike Cuellar. Then lost the WS to the Pirates.

- 2002 Yankees carried about 11 pitchers.

My hunch is that teams loosened from 4 to 5 starters between the early '90s and about 2000. Used more specialist one-inning relievers. Began to carry fewer position players.

Why?

On JCA's interesting post...there just has to be a way to use Lannan, Detwiler, and (Gorzo/Stammen) to stretch Strassburg's time and to give JZimnn an extra day now and then.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #16: June 13, 2012, 03:20:33 PM »
welch - I hate to disagree, but what your B-R research is showing about the 1992 NYY and a few of the other teams is that there really is no such thing as 5 and 5 only starters in a 5 man rotation.  Those teams after the mid 70s or so had 5 man rotations, it is just one guy was either  hurt, a call up, or a washout so they rotated at least one starter through one rotation slot rather than having 5 guys throw 180 - 240  innings each.

1986 Mets had Doc, Ojeda, Darling, and Sid with over 30 starts each, but they also got 20 starts out of Aguilera, 7 out of Bruce Berenyi, and 5 out of Rick Anderson (again, per B-R).  The 1992 NYY had 11 starters, 9 with 8 or more starts.  The Os of Palmer, Cuellar, McNally, and Dobson were a true 4 man rotation, as was the 1970 team without Dobson and with Phoebus and Hardin splitting the 4th slot.  The first 3 in the 1970 rotation all had 39 or 40 starts.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #17: June 13, 2012, 03:32:34 PM »
Welch - you are right about the 10 man staff, 4 man rotation being predominant up to the 70s.  By 1980, the Os, for example, were more of a 4.5 man rotation (Flanagan, Palmer, McGregor, and Stone) (a/k/a Cy Young, Cy Old, Cy Future, and Cy Present), but still got another 15 or so starts from Dennis Martinez, Sammy Stewart, and Mike Boddicker.   Note again that the Os concentrated their innings in a shorter rotation filled by elite pitchers even though they had a couple of great future starters on that roster.  By comparison, the NYY of 1980 had a sort of hybrid, where Tommy john went about every 4th day as an old timer (36 starts), but most of the time they used 5 starters (Guidry 29, tom underwood 27,  Tiant 25, Rudy May 17, Figueroa 9, Mike Griffin 9, G. Perry 8).

By the mid 80s at the latest, 5 man rotations were common.

Offline comish4lif

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #18: June 13, 2012, 03:41:26 PM »
First thread I'm starting here....and will probably a rare occasion (I'm sure you'll appreciate it). But what is the history of using a 5 man rotation in baseball? I understand that having somebody like Strasburg skipping starts or having a 6th guy would change the routine for your whole staff. But is there a reason why one extra days rest is a bad thing for everybody?

If I had to guess, it would be because most teams don't have 5 guys they'd be willing to start. Is there any other reason why this is a bad idea? Wouldn't a 6th guy help both Strass and Zimm pick deeper into the season if needed? If you get Storen back and Lidge can find his stuff. Then you'd got a deeper pen and don't need Ross there really. Yes, your 5th and 6th starters aren't the best. But is it bad?

Not being sarcastic, just genuinely curious.

"that's a clown question, bro."

Offline welch

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #19: June 13, 2012, 05:44:26 PM »
welch - I hate to disagree, but what your B-R research is showing about the 1992 NYY and a few of the other teams is that there really is no such thing as 5 and 5 only starters in a 5 man rotation.  Those teams after the mid 70s or so had 5 man rotations, it is just one guy was either  hurt, a call up, or a washout so they rotated at least one starter through one rotation slot rather than having 5 guys throw 180 - 240  innings each.

1986 Mets had Doc, Ojeda, Darling, and Sid with over 30 starts each, but they also got 20 starts out of Aguilera, 7 out of Bruce Berenyi, and 5 out of Rick Anderson (again, per B-R).  The 1992 NYY had 11 starters, 9 with 8 or more starts.  The Os of Palmer, Cuellar, McNally, and Dobson were a true 4 man rotation, as was the 1970 team without Dobson and with Phoebus and Hardin splitting the 4th slot.  The first 3 in the 1970 rotation all had 39 or 40 starts.

I was trying to guess when teams had gone from a ten-man staff to 12 or 13 (impulse came from noticing that the Nats have a short bench). Guess was some time in the '90s.

(As I remember the '86 Mets, Aguilera was an "on trial" kid pitcher, long reliever, and spot starter. Like a 4.5 man rotation. Berenyi was done...he was being shoved out the door. I don't even remember Anderson. I think Aguilera might have been the winning pitcher in Game 6, even though he would have given up a couple of runs to give the Red Sox the lead)


 




Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #20: June 14, 2012, 01:07:53 PM »
bump.

mods - maybe consolidate the 5 or 6 man rotation length / managing stras's workload threads?

Offline welch

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #21: June 14, 2012, 05:56:40 PM »
I think the Yankees tried to keep to a five-man rotation in 1978 -- that early -- but the starters switched around, except for the astounding Ron Guidry (look up that season and be amazed), and except for the last couple weeks.

- Basic: probably Guidry, Dick ("Dirt") Tidrow, Catfish Hunter, Ed Figueora, Jim Beattie
- However, Tidrow was not good, and Steinbrenner had sneered at Beattie early that season ("No guts. He spit the bit")
- Hunter was hurt, so he skipped a day now and then
- They started Kenny Clay in the first game of a double header; kept Guidry on his schedule.
- During the last fedw games, when the Yankees and the Red Sox were matching games, the Yankees went something like: Guidry, Figueroa, Hunter, Guidry, Beattie, Figueroa, Hunter...then Guidry for the "Bucky Dent" playoff.


Offline tomterp

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #22: June 20, 2012, 12:18:50 PM »
Rockies are going to a 4-man rotation.

Does the Rockies' Four-Man Rotation Make Sense?
 
by Colin Wyers, Baseball Prospectus

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17420

Quote
Well here’s something you don’t see every day—the Rockies are going to a four-man rotation. And what’s more, they’re going to put their four starters on a 75-pitch limit. Jim Tracy explained his decision like so:
 
"I felt we had to do something non-conventional," said Tracy of his beleaguered pitching staff that includes a reliever Josh Roenicke who has thrown more innings than one of the team's starters. "I was given the opportunity to tweak this. We are going to see what transpires as we move forward."
 
A four-man rotation was last regularly used in the major-leagues in the 1960s and early '70s. Asked if a starter would be pulled at 75 pitches with no runs allowed, Tracy insisted he was committed to this experiment.
 
"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."
 
Jeremy Guthrie moves to the bullpen as part of this “non-conventional” move. On one hand, it’s easy to see why a manager might be tired of rolling Guthrie out every day, given his sparkling 7.02 ERA, 6.79 FIP, and 6.43 Fair RA—he’s been bad pretty much any way you want to slice it. But one wonders if the cure isn’t worse than the disease, especially given Doctor Tracy’s diagnosis:
 
"Very similar to Jason Hammel last year, maybe coming out of the bullpen for even a brief period of time will help get Jeremy back to where he needs to be," Tracy said. "Because right now where he’s at it's not benefitting him or our club. We are throwing entirely too many bullpen innings out of the same guys on a daily basis."
 
It’s true, the Rockies are throwing too many bullpen innings. There’s really only one cause of this—not enough innings coming from the starting rotation. Going into last night’s action, the Rockies had the second-fewest innings pitched per game started of any team in the majors, with only the Royals getting fewer innings out of their starters.

etc.

Online houston-nat

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #23: June 20, 2012, 12:28:11 PM »
Wait. Putting everybody on a pitch count of 75 is supposed to decrease their bullpen innings?

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: Why a 5 man rotation in MLB?
« Reply #24: June 20, 2012, 12:29:03 PM »
If they use the extra roster spot for a reliever, maybe?