Hello everybody, long time reader but first time poster. I frequent TC multiple times a day, but have never been into the online blogging. Recently though I've been kicking around an idea in my head and wondered what the rest of you thought about it.
As you all know Jurrjens is set to return to the rotation after he completes a couple more rehab starts, which will likely push either Medlen or Kawakami back into the bullpen. However lately I've been thinking about the idea of combining both pitchers into one game. Sort of like an altered 6-man rotation, having Kawakami "start" the beginning of the game, and having Medlen "start" the second half of the game.
While Medlen has been much more efficient this season than Kawakami, his production has considerably dropped off each time through the order, using this year while he's been a starter as an example:
- Opponents 1st PA: .203/.266/.373
- Opponents 2nd PA: .293/.305/.534
- Opponents 3rd PA: .385/.405/.538
If they let Kawakami start the game and pitch around 5 innings depending on his performance, Medlen could be brought in to finish the remaining innings only having to face the same batter twice if all goes to plan. I believe this rotation's benefits would far outweigh its negatives. For one, it would give the bullpen a day they know they can rest, which often see's certain players get overworked. Second it would limit Medlen's innings which are already on pace to shatter his previous career high. Third it would allow Bobby to flex his managerial muscle deciding when to pull Kawakami, allowing him to double switch and bring in another "starter" that can easily pitch 4+ innings if needed (I couldn't have been the only person screaming at the TV when Bobby let Kawakami hit with the bases loaded and nobody out against the Rays 2 nights ago. This rotation would have been perfect for that situation).
The only flaw's I see in the idea however are the fact that Kawakami gets better as the game progresses, and if we are losing it cripples the use of a pinch-hitter without having to bring in another arm the next inning. And also we would inevitably be losing a bullpen spot on the other 4 days that the duo isn't pitching. But I think with the versatility of the bench, Hicks could be sent down for another bullpen arm, utilizing a 12-man bench and a 13-man staff.
In the end it would obviously skew a lot of counting stats for both Kawakami and Medlen, but I think this would be the best way to use both pitchers to their strength and would certainly be something very interesting to see.
Not that this would ever happen, but it'd be cool to see headlines of "Bobby's cynical use of his 5th starter leads Braves to Division Title in final year!"