Six Shooters?

Based on the success the team had with giving Schilling and Josh Beckett more than seven days’ rest on several occasions late in the season and the fact that Daisuke Matsuzaka thrived on five days’ rest in his native Japan, the team is considering a switch to a six-man pitching rotation.

MLB.com has a story up that gets Theo Epstein on the record regarding the Sox’ exploratory efforts towards this oddball scenario.  How does one measure the benefits?  Surely certain pitchers might thrive on the extra rest, and who knows what it might mean for long-term durability.  On the other hand, why would you willingly start Josh Beckett and a potenially improved Daisuke Matsuzaka 5.4 fewer times each (that’s 11 starts from your #1 and #2) over the course of a season, theoretically speaking? 

The Sox have an innings-capped guy in Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester in his first full season as a major leaguer, an aging Curt Schilling, a Japanese pitcher accustomed to the five days of rest thing, a gimpy knuckleballer, and…Josh Beckett.  I appreciate the Sox considering this option, for sure.  I just have no idea how the team makes a decision like this.  Get those computers working, front-office nerds!

15 comments… add one
  • I’m all for this, though you lose a roster spot which would be used by a bullpen man. Though I guess the extra day of rest should, ideally, make the pitchers go deeper into games, eliminating the need for more bullpen.
    I like this option because it means Buchholz doesn’t have to start the year in AAA.

    Atheose November 6, 2007, 11:41 pm
  • I dont think theres any chance Buchholz would have started in AAA, either Wakefield or Lester would have been bumped from the rotation.

    TJ November 6, 2007, 11:57 pm
  • I don’t think this is a terrible idea, for one season at least. If any team was going to do it, the points stated above about the members of this particular rotation aren’t without logic. But in principle, I’d prefer to see a team out there make a real effort to make the four-man rotation work rather than go the opposite direction. But like I said, if this is a temporary state based on specific circumstances, heck, why not? It probably won’t last all that long anyway, given the tenuous nature of starting pitchers’ health. And as Atheose says, having Buchholz in there gives us more to love. Plus, if Snyder and Tavarez are both around, that provides a flexible bridge to getting to the MDC/Okajima/Papelbon combo on any given night.
    The real question is: Who will be the first Boston sportswriter to give this idea a bad name?

    FenSheaParkway November 7, 2007, 12:00 am
  • I think the flexibility you lose kind of stinks. The only way it would work (and maybe I’ve already voiced this here) is if guys were automatically available out of the bullpen for 1-2 innings on their “throw day” between starts rather than throwing controlled bullpen sessions. This might kill whatever benefits it would give to guys like Schilling and Wake.
    Or, alternately I guess, all our bench players would need to be more flexible. Our backup catcher might have to be one who can play, reliably, one of the corner IF spots as well. Or our backup MI would have to be able to play CF. In this way, theoretically, you could go with a 3-man bench and keep the same number of relievers.

    QuoSF November 7, 2007, 12:04 am
  • I guess the number of quality pitchers the Sox have makes the six-man rotation more of a plausibility this year, but why not go halfway? The top three (Beck, Dice, Schil) stay in their appointed rounds, while the bottom three rotatate so that every 15 days they start twice? This would not only save the innings on the young guys (and the old guy), it would give the Sox the flexibility to drop whichever of the first three pitchers they might need into that formula, with one of the bottom three starting more regularly.
    As SF noted, basically taking away five Beckett starts before the season begins means, based on his 2007 stats, you’re conceding four wins right off the bat. Will the bottom five of a six-man rotation be worth the four wins? Will Matsuzaka getting more rest make up for the three to four fewer wins you’d have been likely to get out of those five starts? You’re looking at losing seven to eight wins from such a scenario right off the bat. That doesn’t strike me as so great.

    Paul SF November 7, 2007, 12:44 am
  • Well I rather have Dice K getting that extra days rest too. How about Beckett always goes on regular rest and the other 5 mix and match in.

    TJ November 7, 2007, 12:51 am
  • Honestly, I dont liek the 6-man rotation and I really don’t think its goign to happen. Lets say it helps Dice-K. Without that help (yes he got SOME extended rest starts thanks to the schedule.. but that’ll happen any year) he got 15 Wins*. Lets say he improves in skill into 08 and puts up.. oh say 16-18 Wins. This accoutns for better pitching (lower WHIP avg) and the fact that I think the offense will improve (Ellsbury, bounceback seasons for Drew/Lugo). Now.. lets say the extended rest helps him. Even if it adds, say, two Wins in, the number of wins lost due to fewer starts would pretty much at LEAST even out. So.. 17-18 Wins maybe.
    So.. veyr very slight improvement there, if anything (unless the Sox think Dice-K 2007 is as good as he can be skillwise without the extra rest.. in which case they severely fucked up that aquisition.. in which case you may be adding 1-3 Wins right off the batt)
    So, lets assume that for Dice-K its a push or a minor improvement.
    But we come to Josh Beckett. He had TWENTY wins this year. But now he’ll get to pitch FIVE less times. Is the extra rest REALLY gonna make up for the 4 wins you lost normally? No way. I cant imagine that.
    Schilling.. well… look.. Im not entirely thrilled with the signign. (Ya insurance.. but… Buchholz..) I really dotn think he stays healthy all season and think he’d be the most helped by the system anyway. So thge one guy who (I think.. no bassis here, just gut) will eb most helped by the rest is the guy who will proabbly spend SOME if not considerable time on the DL (no, I dont think the extra rest will stop that from happening though it’ll delay it)
    Wake is.. well.. Wake. Knuckleballers dont need that much rest. He may not be able to be bullpen anymore, but I dont think regular rest is that hard on him. I suspect hsi injury this year to be either a fluke or compeltely unavoidable.
    Lester/Stickbug – I really think Lester is ready for a full season of innings. I think the loss of starts will again be bigger than the advantage of rest.. but thats purely gut as not enough experience with him exists. Buchholz is the biggest issue here, but with the Five Man rotation I imagien he spends the begining of the Season in AAA with very low pitch counts thus negatign PC concerns. He is the biggest Widl Card though.. who knows how many Wins he could net you?
    Now we come to the bullpen. I really dont buy that Starters Will Go Deeper Into Games with this system. I still dont see anyone except Dice regularly havign 120+ pitch outtings. And I think they’ll curtail him anyway consider end of the season burnout this year. That means the Bullpen, havign lost one guy, becomes more overworked. Remember how nice it was not the see Paps overworked fromt he season durign the post season? Remember how overworked Oki seemed by the World Series? I’m gonna say we get a couple extra Losses from the pen due to this system.
    So. That comes in, in my mind…
    Big loss from Josh.
    Small Win/Push with Dice-K.
    Small Win for Schilling.
    Push for Wake.
    Push for Lester
    ???? for Buchholz.
    Medium Loss for the Pen
    Overall I think we are better served with a five man rotation. Of course Ive done no real analysis via numbers or anything. Im no Prospectus writer. This is just me, sittign and thinking, wihtout even looking at any stats… so it doesnt mean much.
    *Yes I know wins are an UGLY stat. I’m sorry. I hate them too.

    Dionysus November 7, 2007, 3:55 am
  • ARRRRRRGH! I wrote a HUGE post on my opinion on the six man rotation.. and I lost it ALL!
    *cries*

    Dionysus November 7, 2007, 3:57 am
  • Or.. wait.. there it is

    Dionysus November 7, 2007, 3:57 am
  • Anywoo.. I imagine withing the week BP will have an article examining this possibility for us chock-full of delicious statistics.
    Also, Mike Lowell declared Free Agency. We have soem tiem to exclusively negotiate with him, but this makes me nervous. Why did he wait so long? I have to imagine his agnets have been workign with Theo and perhaps havent been getting what they liek so declaring FA is their way of upping the ante.
    I’m nervous abotu Lowell. Real nervous. SO much so, that for the first time I’m thinking abotu who, OTHER than Lowell, to put at 3rd base. (Cabrera maybe? No A-Rod)
    It would not suprise me to see the Yanks swoop in with a obscene offr jsut to keep us from keeping him.

    Dionysus November 7, 2007, 4:04 am
  • dio, i wouldn’t worry so much about lowell…he has apparently said once upon a time that he might consider, even like, playing for the yankees, but his declaring free agency is just a formality [a la pettite] perhaps simply to keep his options open…this opens things up for lowell to receive other offers to play against the sox…the sox have a professed uneasiness about signing guys in their mid-30’s to long term contracts, especially if they think lowell’s offensive output this season was an anomaly…
    as for the 6 starter thing, my 2 cents, and i’m probably just repeating what others have said, is that you wouldn’t want to lose starts from your top couple of guys…i think paul recommended a fixed part of the rotation starting on “normal” rest, with the remainder of the rotation taking turns as appropriate…i know the sox think they have enough quality pitching to pull this off, but truthfully, it’s tough enough to get enough quality starts out of a 5th starter let alone a 6th…then, God forbid, injury can play heck with a rotation…except for schilling’s stint on the disabled list, and of course lester’s recovery, the sox staff was relatively injury free last season if i recall correctly…

    dc November 7, 2007, 7:55 am
  • Beckett had one DL stint too, dc. And Wake was shut down for a little while.

    SF November 7, 2007, 8:19 am
  • And if 2006 taught us anything, it’s that you can’t have too much pitching. Whether we go to a 6-man rotation or not, I like the fact that we have 6 reliable starters.

    Atheose November 7, 2007, 8:23 am
  • Wins are an ugly stat when used to determine the value of an individual pitcher relative to the league. But not when discussing overall contributions to a team’s season. In that case, wins are the ONLY stat that matters.

    Paul SF November 7, 2007, 9:45 am
  • The more I think about a six man rotation the less I like it. Matsuzaka spent all last year getting used to pitching on four days rest regularly; it might not be the best idea to go back to five days rest for one year and then, whoop, back to four days rest in 2009. Also, as has been mentioned a few times above, you don’t want to lose five Beckett starts.
    I think a better solution would be to build in some off time – say, two intervals of three weeks each – for Buchholz, Lester, Schilling and Wake, whether that’s at Pawtucket or on the DL. One of our starters will likely be on the DL at some point anyway, and building in a couple weeks of rest for the young guys will help ensure that their arms aren’t too tired going into the end of the season. But you’d still get the normal number of innings from Beckett and Matsuzaka – best of both worlds?

    Jackie (SF) November 7, 2007, 11:30 pm

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