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Friday, June 04, 2004

A Modest Suggestion For The Starting Rotation

I've been mulling an idea for a little while about the Angels' starting rotation, so shaky and barely able to get the job done of late. Last year, the team had similar problems, with Appier consistently inconsistent, Washburn and Lackey turning into gascans, and Sele falling apart. Of the starting rotation, only Ortiz, by run support pixie dust, had double-digit wins and a winning record (16-13, 5.20 ERA). Wash looks like he's that guy this year, but Ortiz, it seems, now feels upset by his demotion to the pen, and has demanded a trade or a rotation spot. Scioscia's response is that Lackey pitched well enough last September to earn more patience from management.

Ortiz's complaint has some merit to it. We must do something.

Last year, Scioscia put Sele on a five inning leash, and he became effective in a few starts. Perhaps what we need some similar out-of-the-box thinking to fix the starters. Here's my ideas:

  1. Starters with four or more consecutive bad outings will be rotated through the bullpen.
  2. Starters in this rotating usage pattern will see no more than five innings on their start days.
  3. To get into the starting rotation, a pitcher must put together three consecutive good outings.
The inspiration for this is the A's minor league battery system, where two pitchers will be paired, with one starting for five innings one day and his battery mate throwing the other four, then the next time flip-flopping. But Ortiz has put it together in the bullpen, yet (s)Lackey and "Cheeseburger" Colón are getting more chances to fail, and that's exactly what's happening. The Angels need to maximize their assets; letting the dollar value attached to one player, or in Lack's case, games played last season so strongly influence usage this year isn't working. (Wash also might be a target for this, considering his bloated ERA.)

Of course, it's only a thought, and the downside to it is its psychological effect on the players involved; how much would you like to be told the organization's become skeptical of your abilities as a straight starter?

But.

The team must act.


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