Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Your 2019 Giants: 6 Man Rotation

With my thoughts in my other post about the potential rotation crunch in 2019, should the Giants sign Derek Holland (as I hope that they do), I realized that perhaps there is a solution:  6-man Rotation.

ogc thoughts

As I noted before, I like Derek Holland a lot, but I wasn't sure if he would be interested in re-signing with the Giants given that they likely have Bumgarner, D-Rod, Stratton, Suarez, and Samardzija penciled in for the 2019 starting rotation.  Then I remembered my idea that I've been pitching for the Giants for a while now:  6-man pitching rotation.

6-man Pitching Rotation is an Acceptable Concept to Giants

That would be the solution if all six starters do well enough to earn a spot in the 2019 starting rotation.  Of course, if someone is injured or not performing, switching to a 5-man rotation obviously works.  And this should be a concept the Giants can accept, as they were thinking of allowing Ohtani pitch every 6 days, had he decided to play for the Giants.

Flexibility for SP Needs

One of the benefits I like is the flexibility it can provide for handling each individual starter.  It can be like how it used to be a 4-man rotation early on, but by May or so, the days off lessens and the team moves to a 5-man rotation.  However, instead of forcing the size of the rotation to some pre-conceived notion of how many starters there should be, instead, it will ebb and flow depending on the performances and needs of the starting pitchers.

So if six starters are doing well to start the season, the Giants go with six.  If it is five, go with five.  And the same during the season, though mainly the goal is to have the six starters who are rotating in, and out, as necessary, which is the key to this tactic.

In this way, the team can then strategically ebb and flow the rotation.  Maybe Bumgarner is in for 140 pitches for his first no-hitter, much like Cain and Timmy, but since we got six guys going, he gets an extra day, and really, could be moved back a day, if necessary, as the other guy would then be pitching on the old 5 day rest paradigm.

Maybe a pitcher is getting tired and need a blow, so maybe his rotation spot is skipped in that cycle, and returned back in the next.  Or maybe the pitcher needs to work on something, so his turn is skipped so that he can work on it, and then take his next start, with maybe a relief appearance in between if necessary.  The whole idea is that with the starting pitchers are getting 6-7 days of rest, during most of the season, and thus is more rested between starts, and occasionally get only 5 days, which was the usual rest routine before, and that won't tired them out.

Reduced Load:  Good for Young and Old

Also, that reduces the starter's load from 32-34 starts per season (roughly 190-205 IP) to 27 starts (or roughly 160-170 IP).  That could be helpful for the whole staff.

As people have started noticing, Bumgarner appears to be slowing down some this season vs. his pre-accident self, whether it was the accident or age, there is some decrease in performance.  Given him less innings (he'll probably still end up with 28 starts since he'll be the first starter of both halves, maybe 29 if the first half ends with one of his starts) seems like a good way to keep him fresher during the season, put less wear and tear on his arm, while saving him for the playoffs.  He is reaching the pitcher's next age hurdle, the big 3-0 (after blasting through 25 pretty well).

Samardzija has been battling a shoulder issue.  If it continues in 2019, then he could be safely put on DL and not pushed back like he was, unsuccessfully, twice.  His returns killed any momentum that the starting rotation had built up, as the Giants went 2-8 in his starts (while going over .500 in other starts, early on).   Also, a reduced load on his shoulder in 2019 would be a good thing, given his issues in 2018.  And who knows, he's a high effort pitcher, maybe with more rest between starts, he can retain more of his form in each later start, and pitch well deep into the season, instead of sporadically.

Derek Holland has been pretty good for the Giants all season, and their two week rest in the middle of July helped him to make that leap this season, because, as I documented in my analysis of him during Spring Training, he's been a great pitcher when rested and at full strength.  But he was only up to about two months in 2017, and this break has pushed his good stretch deeper into 2018, and it is not always easy to just give a starter a two week blow mid-season.  With a 6-man rotation, they can, especially with the ASB in July adding a few days in.  Plus, with more rest between starts (6-7 days instead of 5-6 days), he might not need such a long rest mid-season, and maybe can handle a full season at his peak.  This would help him build up the stamina for 2020 on.

Then we got the three young starters:  Stratton, Suarez, and D-Rod.  Stratton is not so young anymore, but still not really proven for the rigors of 32 starts, 180+ IP.   Similarly for Suarez, except that he is young, and also does not have a modern starter's frame, he's got a slight build, and thus, not only is he not used to a long MLB season, he might tired out sooner than other starting pitchers.  As we have seen, after a great middle season of 2-something ERA, he has been up and down since then, with good starts followed by middling or bad starts.  And D-Rod is also a young starter unproven for the deep MLB seasons, and given him less starts and IP would help him retain strength deeper in the season, as well as help him transition to a full season at some future point.

So there is something for everyone with the Six-Man Rotation.  This plan would not work if there are sub-par starting pitchers, but Bumgarner is the clear ace, Samardzija is the question mark, and the rest are somewhere in the middle, but so far has shown the ability to be a mid-rotation starter, at minimum, and ace level (sub-3 ERA) for extended periods.   So for each start Bumgarner loses, Samardzija would lose at least one, and they get distributed to the extra starter.  The Giants won from 2009 to 2012 with a strong rotation from top to bottom, except for the 5th starter bouncing in and out, and changing depending on who is doing poorly.  It is based on quality SP throughout most of the rotation.

Hopefully the Giants will consider it, should we have six starters ready for the start of the 2019 season, or at any point in the season, since it could benefit each starter in different ways.

Roster Complications

It is not all milk and honey though, as that would take away another roster spot, most probably a reliever because the bench is already slim with only a backup catcher, two backup infielders, and two backup outfielder.  That's a good reason for the Giants to continue trying out Slater at different infield and outfield positions, so that he can help out in many ways so that they can give up a bench spot. Which, they already have done in the past, carrying only one OF at times in order to carry an extra bullpen arm.

But Slater won't work for this tactic as the Giants need a CF backup if there is only one OF bench player, and he can't really handle CF, from what I understand.  Also, Williamson is out of options after this season, and unless he wins the LF starting position, he'll either be on the bench or DFAed.  I'm hoping that Mac will be around and get a chance to win a starting spot or at least be available as the first OF available should anyone goes down, and thus be paired with Gorkys, who is the CF backup.  So it looks like a 5-man bench again in 2019.

Meanwhile, the bullpen already is suffering from a crunch for the 2019 season even without moving to a 6-man rotation.  The bullpen currently is comprised of Melancon (assuming he resumes his closer role in 2019), Smith (as the new Affeldt), Watson (as the elder version of Affeldt; co-Affeldt? :), Strickland, Dyson, Moronta, Black, seven relievers for a six man bullpen, plus Blach as the long reliever.  And thus why I suggested in another post that it may be time to trade away either Strickland or Dyson, as good relievers have been returning good prospect returns.  And imagine the return for two of them!

The danger with this is that we don't have a lot of great depth in the relief corps in the minors, with Okert and Law looking like the best options there right now, though I've seen comments about the Giants returning Shaun Anderson, who has done great as a SP in AAA and inserted himself as the top pitching prospect in the Giants system this season, to the reliever's role he had before the Giants traded for him.  Also, Blach has done well in short stints before, as well as long, so I would include him as an option.  And there is some report that Beede was showing some good signs as a reliever, although his numbers don't look great.  So trading away two relievers don't look like a good strategy for the 2019 season.

It seems the best option is to trade away one current MLB reliever (plus perhaps throw in prospects to get a better prospect), while not carrying any long reliever (who generally don't get used, and is there only in case of emergency) and Bochy would need to be more flexible in keeping relievers in for two inning stretches when necessary to bridge a short start to the end of the game.  Or perhaps leave in the starter when he's clearly struggling and let him soak up innings.

1 comment:

  1. The giants need to sign a quality outfielder, who can field, hit 300, and hit around 30 or more homers. Harper should not be the person.

    ReplyDelete

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