Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No...don't even think about it....no six man rotation

The dilemma of putting Carlos Zambrano back into the starting rotation sets up a conundrum for the Cubs.

They have 6 starters...but only 5 spot in the rotation.

So some people have started to ask...should the Cubs go with a 6 man rotation.

No! No!  Absolutely not!


Well, as I have emphatically stated in the past, starting pitching is not, repeat, not a problem for this team.  There is no reason to be tinkering with it.

A six man rotation does not provide any benefit, and could be a huge risk.

First off, unless the Cubs would be willing to try a rather cool idea (but one that could result in disaster), it really would end up taxing the bullpen.  A six man rotation results in a 6 man bullpen.  The Cubs would have 3 lefties out there and three righties (with one of those righties being the closer).  Another issue, with the two righties not named Carlos Marmol, we have a serious problem getting right handed hitters out late in the game.  Does anyone feel comfortable with Bobby Howry and Jeff Stevens coming in late in the game in a tight situation and expect them to get a right handed batter out?  It sure makes me scared as hell thinking about it.

But, a six man rotation could give you that 7th man in the bullpen...that's the cool idea I mentioned earlier.  In my opinion, the only way a 6 man rotation can work is if one starter is available in the bullpen during each game.  What I mean from that is that if the Cubs go with a 6 man rotation, each of those pitchers would get 5 days rest.  Now typically, a starter gets 4 days rest and usually has a side throwing session on the 2nd or 3rd day of rest.

With the extra day rest in a six man rotation, why not put the starter that is currently on his 2nd or 3rd day of rest out in the bullpen?  Instead of a side session, put him out there and have him do that work out during an actual game instead?  It's kind of a cool thought.  I might actually work.  In fact, John Smoltz let the Braves use him in this way for a short time a couple of years ago.  If the Cubs don't use that pitcher during that game, well he can do a side session after the game or the next day.

So, it could work I suppose, and that is my proposal on how to make the 6 man rotation work...but that's a huge risk.  Starting pitchers are creatures of habit...and this would be a major shake up from their normal routine.

In fact, if I didn't think the Cubs had a shot at anything this year, I would probably be calling for them to give this a try.

But the Cubs do have a good chance this year (despite the crappy play so far this season).  I've said before that I believe that this season is the last in a certain window of opportunity for a number of players including Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.  If they don't make a serious run at things this year, the team is going to be blown up.  The Cubs need to go "all in" this year and using a 6 man rotation is a huge risk that could severely backfire on them.

If I ran the team, the solution I would come up with right now if we had to put Zambrano back into the rotation (which I am not in favor of), is to recall Jeff Gray from AAA, send Ted Lilly to the bullpen and put John Grabow on the DL with some made up injury.  Why call up Jeff Gray?  Well, I feel that the only logical choices to be sent to the bullpen right now are two left-handed pitchers...Lilly and Gorzelanny.  That would result in 4 lefties in the pen and only 3 righties.  This is not a good ratio considering most hitters in the major leagues are right handed.  The Cubs need to maintain the 4/3 ratio...with 4 right handers.

The only other option other than placing Grabow on the DL would be to demote James Russell to AAA...and that would be a major mistake too.

So when you start to read about the possibility of going with a 6 man rotation, think about what that means for the team.  It is a kinda cool idea, but it is just too big of a risk for the Cubs to try this season.