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Rockies go radical: Four-man rotation, 75-pitch limit

Jun 19, 2012, 6:01 PM EDT

Jim Tracy AP

If there was ever a team that should be trying something different, it’s the 2012 Rockies with their 25-40 record and their 6.28 starter’s ERA. Still, this doesn’t seem like a great idea.

Manager Jim Tracy revealed this afternoon that he plans to go with a four-man rotation and limit all of his starters to 75 pitches per outing.

“We had to do something that was unconventional,” Tracy said.

Jeremy Guthrie, who is expected to be traded in the near future, was moved to the pen to set up the new arrangement. The Rockies will go with a rotation of Christian Friedrich, Jeff Francis,  Alex White and Josh Outman for now.

Rockies starters have been the worst in the NL this year, and it hasn’t helped matters that Coors Field is back playing like it did in the early part of the last decade. Of the 10 pitches to start games for the Rockies this season, only one has managed a sub-5.00 ERA. That’s Drew Pomeranz, who was sent back to the minors after going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in his five starts. The best ERA of the pitchers currently in the rotation belongs to White, who is at 5.56 after eight starts.

It will be interesting to see just how this affects a bullpen that has already been overworked this season. Tracy will often be getting just four innings from his starters, so he’s going to have to treat relievers Guillermo Moscoso, Matt Belisle, Adam Ottavino and Guthrie like long guys. If he starts yanking those guys out after an inning of work, he’s going to have big problems within a week or two. However, if he’s willing to let some of them throw three innings, take two days off and then come back out and throw two or three innings again, maybe the experiment will survive until the All-Star break anyway.

  1. theawesomersfranchise - Jun 19, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    When did they Rockies hire Joe Maddon?
    This is so crazy what’s not too love?

    • dan1111 - Jun 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Yeah, I like it. But will he use his closer in tie games?

  2. redux23 - Jun 19, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    and yet tony rasmus remains a free agent

  3. dowhatifeellike - Jun 19, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Since this is the “year of the fan,” they might as well start auditioning people off the street.

  4. rockiesprospectsreport - Jun 19, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    Another potential problem – Francis and Outman may not pitch three innings with a 75-pitch limit.

  5. DJ MC - Jun 19, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Desperation is the mother of creativity. At the very least, this will be an interesting story if it can last for a while.

  6. JB (the original) - Jun 19, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    They should throw Cuddyer out there every 5th day. I believe he has a lifetime ERA of 0.00….

    • spudatx - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      The Twins could use a pitcher like that about now…

  7. ndnut - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Cuddy should pitch! He has movement and can throw s cutter, which is more than can be said about Matt Crapps.

  8. proudlycanadian - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    So much for trying to make Guthrie look marketable. A lot of BS and no takers. The Jays do not want him despite the leaks from the Rockies that they had tried to trade him to the Jays. In a radio interview yesterday on the Fan 590, A. A. poured cold water on the Guthrie story that had been played up in both the Denver media and on Fox Sports.

  9. scapistron - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Paging Livan Hernandez.

  10. rooney24 - Jun 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Whether or not it works, I applaud someone being willing to try something different, rather than just keep doing what isn’t working.

  11. mianfr - Jun 19, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Even though I’m sure it will get misused, I always thought a marginal team devoid of starting pitching talent should this, even to a further extreme.

    I really had this in mind for the playoffs, especially for a team like the Brewers when they made the wildcard a few years back, who had CC Sabathia and hopes and dreams for a rotation. Perhaps he pitches as normal, but the rest of the games are essentially maximizing the talents of the starts in two, possibly three inning spurts, letting them theoretically contribute a better performance (can give more as a reliever) in a similar (possibly greater) number of innings than if they were allowed to start and try to go six or seven and see what happens.

    It’d take a brave soul to try that when the stakes were highest, but if you’re on borrowed time anyway, why not?

  12. mgflolox - Jun 19, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    I hope this works, though I might go to 85 or 90 pitches per start. Maybe with strict pitch limits, the starters will go after hitters more aggressively and actually pitch better. Can’t be any worse than what they’re doing now.

  13. bigleagues - Jun 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    Jhoulys Chacin is throwing long toss “aggressively from 120 feet” as he rebuilds strength in that arm. There is optimism apparently he could be back sometime around or just after the All-Star break.

    That said, even if Chacin’s got his A-game, the atmosphere and weather is wreaking havoc on the Denver norms and nothing short of elite sinkerballers with a killer changeup are gonna have any real success there this year.

  14. ndnut - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Japan did something similar in the Little League World Series a few years back. The rule is that if less than 20 pitches are thrown, no rest is needed. So they had a bunch of guys throw 19 pitches each, and nobody could time them or guess who they would face. I think they did good that year, but I don’t remember where they finished.

  15. ndnut - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Japan did something similar in the Little League World Series a few years back. The rule is that if less than 20 pitches are thrown, no rest is needed. So they had a bunch of guys throw 19 pitches each, and nobody could time them or guess who they would face. I think they did good that year, but I don’t remember where they finished.

  16. spudatx - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    So… now everyone is required to pitch “a Jamie Moyer” outing? Too bad he isn’t around anymore.

  17. foreverchipper10 - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Any word on when Jorge De La Rosa will be back?

  18. rico7207 - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Just shows Tracy should have been gone long agao. Club is too cheap to improve. Why not just move that team and put one back in Montreal.

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