According to Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy, his team has been relying on its bullpen too much. The team’s relief corps has logged the third most innings in the league over the course of the season, but for the last thirty days it’s tied with the Kansas City Royals atop the list of innings pitched.

In order to curb this trend, Tracy intends to limit his bullpen use going forward by … implementing a four man starting rotation that will be on a strict 75 pitches per start limit. In other words, he’s hoping to put less wear and tear on his relievers by asking his starters to throw fewer pitches between fewer days of rest.

Even if the Colorado Rockies had four excellent starters, which they don’t, there’s absolutely no reason to suggest that going with a smaller rotation will save bullpen arms. In fact, it would seem that such an action would have the exact opposite effect.

It means that one extra arm, Jeremy Guthrie in this case, can go to the bullpen, but if this is such a concern for the Rockies, why don’t they just forfeit a bench spot and call up an extra reliever as many teams will do from time to time?

Of course, this sort of thing was looked into a while ago by Tom Tango et al. in The Book, and they found the following:

Pitchers perform best with five days of rest, and worst with three days of rest. To manage our entire starting rotation effectively, four days of rest seems to be the optimal point. The current MLB pattern of scheduling the starting rotation works.

So, while it’s nice to see a manager attempt to do something unconventional that’s rooted in thinking outside the box, his justification seems so completely¬†asinine¬†as to make his efforts laughable. Making the move even more questionable is the fact that the Rockies don’t enjoy another off day until the All-Star Break.

Comments (5)

  1. Jim Tracy is stupid. Noted, thank you.

  2. As you said, I do like the idea of trying to switch things up and try to get an advantage somewhere, especially when a team is more or less out of contention. If it works, you can try to implement it more next year and you lose almost nothing if it doesn’t.

    But in this case: WHAAAAAAA?? With the 75 pitch limit you guarantee that the bullpen has to throw all of the pitches that a starter in a 5 man rotation would normally pitch while also guaranteeing that they will throw all the pitches when the starter can’t go 75 pitches. Even if you ignore the fact that these pitchers will likely be more tired (and throw <75 pitches) in the 4-man rotation, this move, by-definition, will put more strain on the bullpen because presumably some of the CO pitchers would normally throw more than 75 pitches every now and then (i'm not looking).

    A 4 man rotation might make sense for a lot of reasons(maybe not), but this certainly isn't one of them.

  3. the data of when pitchers perform best is skewed based on the norm.

    pitching is patters, breaking any pattern leads to poor results.

    if you make it the norm to go on 3 days rest pitchers will survive, just like they did for so many years

    • As they did for so many years with “dead-balls” against inferior lineups and not throwing as hard.

  4. If this wasn’t a “rest the bullpen” thing, it would actually make quite a bit of sense, no? 75 pitches stops your starter from seeing a lineup a third time (unless he’s mowing them down, I guess?) and keeps them fresh, essentially killing the need for a fifth starter, getting your best pitchers in to the game more often. Of course, if Jeff Francis is going to be one of these 4 starters, we can pretty much forget about it, but still, with a halfway decent rotation, this would probably make a modicum of sense.

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