Hudson, Hanson, and JJ could all use an extra day between starts early in the season
Beachy, Minor, Teheran will all hit their innings limit before the post-season, when we will need them.
Going with a 6 man to start the season would allow a couple huge benefits. 1, our creaky front end of the rotation could ease into the rigors of the season while going easier on their bodies. 2, it would give us a better chance of having live young arms going into the post season. And while we are on 2, I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s a pretty big issue—think Padres ’10. If we trade a pitcher, we are relying on at least one of these young guys to be the third starter in the post season, and that’s if Hudson and Hanson are healthy at the end of the year—a big if. I know it would be unorthodox, but no more unorthodox than having 5/6 guys 26 and under making starts. It’s worth going to extra effort to make sure some of our young starters have live arms going into the post season, especially with the injury concerns around the others. What I’m postulating is that, an early season 6-man rotation might be a necessary adjustment for a team that intends to win in the playoffs with so many young starters and injury questions at the top of the rotation.
It’s only the difference of a start or two from our best performer (which we can’t predict, since it could as easily be Minor or Teheran starter as an April Hanson or Hudson). Meanwhile, it allows an extra day of rest for our young arms and injured front line starters. I think it would be less valuable to think of the 9 or 10 innings it would save on the arm, and more valuable to think of its extra day of rest and recuperation.
Also, I am just suggesting this as temporary. After the first 6 weeks, hopefully everyone is eased into the season and ready to pitch every 5 days. This will allow for room for an injury or trade. It may even make a trade candidate more appealing, if their arm is perceived as more fresh going into the second half. If we are talking about JJ, this might be directly valuable as a statement in trade negotiations, considering it was after the first half that JJ wore down last season.
Now let me say, I’m not committed to this as the best plan, and I’ve also heard numerous other arguments for 6 men rotations. I wrote this because I think a unique and solid argument can be made for the Braves in ’11. We have more depth than we know what to do with, we have some injury concerns and we are committed to young pitchers in the playoffs.
I look forward to feedback and variation. I expect the best counterargument to concern getting into grooves, and how pitching more often can help with sharpness. I am not sure how to evaluate these benefits in relation to rest, and how to weigh the short-term benefits against the long. It gets sloppy here for a couple reasons, 1, every pitcher is different, 2, there aren’t many case studies to go off of. Many of us probably just remember the one time Vazquez made a start on 5 days rest, got rocked, and we saw stats of how he always did worse with more rest. Even if we wanted to look at league pitchers and all their starts with 5 days rest, it doesn’t compare since it wasn’t routine. It’s when the thought process leads into this mess of uncertainty that it seems like a risky proposition—especially if the young pitchers don’t actually pitch deeper into games despite having one less guy in the pen. So as I said, I concede good arguments from both sides. I wrote this up because I think there are good enough arguments to try the 6 man to at least throw it out there for debate. We have some guys w some injuries that could use some stretching out, and we have young guys we will need to not hit walls later on.<!--EndFragment-->