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The Modified Four-Man Rotation

Anyone who has watched any baseball team this season other than the Phillies or Giants knows how difficult it is to find more than one competent starting pitcher, let alone five. There are too many starters in the league who have no business pitching in the majors, but the five-man rotation forces teams to use at least one extremely sub-par starter. Going back to a time when men were men and teams had four-man rotations is never going to happen, but there must be better way. And I think I’ve found it.

ballI call it The Modified Four-Man Rotation (TMFMR). In this scheme, teams can use their days off to skip the fifth starter while giving their top four starters their usual four days off between starts. The fifth starter would only pitch during stretches where there are no days off.

To test my TMFMR theory I looked at the Mets 2011 schedule and assigned the starters to each game, making sure they all got their requisite four days off. My results were this: the ace and number two pitcher got 35 starts each, the third and fourth starters each got 34, and the fifth starter had to make just 24 starts.

Since each starter currently makes around 32 starts per season under the usual five-man rotation, with my plan the top two starters each get three more starts, the other two each get two more. Basically you are taking ten starts away from your inferior fifth starter and giving them to your better pitchers. How many pennant races are decided by fewer than ten games? How about most of them!

TMFMR is a plan that could. The fifth starter would likely be a veteran who can work irregularly. And if any of the top four starters is tired and needs an extra day off, the fifth guy will be there to fill in.

Now that I’ve solved this problem, let me get to work on starters pitching deeper into games and relievers lasting more than one inning. First things first — I’ll need an acronym…

4 thoughts on “The Modified Four-Man Rotation

  • dunbummin

    I don’t like the 4 man rotation idea. For one thing, the fifth starter gives the others a needed extra day of rest when there are off days. For another, he is often just as reliable as the #3 or #4 starter, and in the case of the 2011 Mets, as reliable as all the others. I was fine with Capuano this year, and Dickey last year.
    What I’d like to suggest is to give every starter an inning of relief instead of their bull pen session on their off day. That would take some of the load off the bull pen, leaving them fresher late in the season.
    Back to the 4 man rotation idea, what the Mets really need now is an additional ace. If they are to compete with the Phils and Braves rotations next year, they need at least 2 top flight starters (say Santana and James Shields or Ricky Romero) to front the rotation. Then, Dickey, Niese and Capuano or Gee would be fine at the back end. Trade Pelf or don’t tender him.

  • I’ve too had this same exact thought. It makes sense to me as a Phils fan.

    Next year, I want Halladay, Lee, and Hamels getting more starts than some combination of Worley, Blanton, and Kendrick.

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  • Naveed

    It’s not a bad idea. Before this season, I looked at how the Giants could do something like that, although the purpose was to limit Madison Bumgarner’s innings (he being a young pitcher). Certainly it’s a reasonable idea, and the fifth starter could pitch out of the bullpen when he would have long spaces between starts.

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