Everyone in the media ... everyone ... is talking about the Atlanta Braves possibly going to a six-man rotation. <Something>, please. For maybe a minute one might consider it a good idea ... maybe, one, minute. But then one should come to their senses and realize how silly it sounds, and better yet, WHY they're even suggesting it.
The six-man rotation is being considered because the current rotation stable of Tim Hudson, Ben Sheets, Paul Maholm, Mike Minor, and rotation fill-in Kris Medlen are all pitching well enough to stay in the rotation, and Tommy Hanson seems ready to return from the disabled list. So with six good starters, what is a team to do?
I'll stop being sassy for a minute and try to break down the pros and cons of a six-man rotation. Here's what I came up with as it relates to the Braves current five plus Hanson. There may be more, but this is what I came up with.
Pros of having a six-man rotation:
- Starters that may be experiencing dead-arm (Sheets, Hudson), or whom the team wants to limit innings (Minor, Hudson, Medlen), could benefit from extra rest and fewer overall innings.
- Without an obvious ace on the staff, there is no risk in taking away starts from a guy every five days. All current Braves starters are middle-of-the-rotationish, so why not keep all six in starting form.
- Keeping Medlen stretched out in the rotation would allow the Braves to keep him in starting form should they need to disable any of the other members of the rotation. They would then just fall back into a five-man rotation.
Cons of having a six-man rotation:
- If starters do not go reasonably deep into games several days in a row, that could severely tax the bullpen, which would presumably be one man short.
- It could throw off the rhythm of any pitcher used to throwing every five days, especially sinkerballers like Hudson and Maholm.
- If a starter is not skipped on an off-day, then that would mean six days between starts for some pitchers. Starting pitchers usually don't like to sit that long, and their routine of throwing in between starts could be thrown off, and may take some time to adjust to the longer down period.
- If a six-man staff was actually a good idea, then every team would be doing it.
- Just because there are six guys who can start, doesn't mean six guys should be starting at the same time.
- Seriously, the bullpen.
I may have embellished on the cons, but you have probably figured out where I stand on a six-man rotation by now. That being said the pros are decent reasons, but I believe they are far outweighed by the cons. There's a reason that some pitchers are called swing-men -- so they can go back and forth between starting and relieving. As much as all of us probably love Medlen in the rotation, and as well as he's done, his ability to move back and forth between two roles is also a valuable asset and should be fully utilized.
I'm all for considering Meds a rotation lock for next season, but this year his value to the team is best used by going to the bullpen when Hanson returns, and possibly going back to the rotation should another injury the front five occur. If the team wants to keep him stretched out, then make sure that he throws multiple innings when he appears in relief.
A six-man rotation ... seriously?