March 8: Q of the Day
It seems like both Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller would be productive pitchers for the Cardinals this year, and it’s a shame to send one down to the minors. Why wouldn’t the Cardinals consider a six-man rotation given their pitching depth. It would probably keep the young guys and those coming off recent injuries (Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia) a little healthier both in the short- and long-run?
— Chad B., Carbondale, Ill.
There are two primary issues with the six-man rotation model. One of those is that it would keep your top starters from taking the mound as much — which is not desirable. With a five-man rotation, the club can get its starters as many as 32-33 starts per year. Insert another starter into that mix and the math works out to about 27 starts per pitcher. Would you really want to sacrifice 5-6 Wainwright starts, for instance, just to keep Kelly and Miller in the rotation? As long as Wainwright is healthy (and he should be well past concerns about his elbow surgery), that’s not ideal.
The other thing to consider with a six-man rotation is routine. Yes, starters can pitch on five days of rest (they do so regularly during the season due to off days), but they also have a routine that makes it natural to pitch with only four days in between starts. With a six-man rotation you’d often have starters throwing on six days of rest. That’s not necessary.
Now, while a pure six-man rotation is not in discussion, that doesn’t mean that the Cardinals won’t use six starters extensively this year. That fifth spot in the rotation could be fluid, especially when you consider that neither Miller, nor Kelly, has previously started a full season in the big leagues. If workload becomes an issue for either, the Cardinals could sub the other one in and out, as needed.
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