Colorado’s switch to a four-man rotation with starters on 75-pitch limits hasn’t exactly worked wonders, but the Rockies are sticking with that setup for the remainder of this season and plan to continue using it next year as well.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that they’ll make a slight change, essentially pairing each starter with a “piggyback” reliever who’ll be expected to throw around 50 pitches. And in theory 75 pitches from the starter and 50 pitches from the reliever would get the Rockies deep enough into games to then rely on more traditional bullpen usage.
Coors Field and pitching at altitude has made it extremely tough for the Rockies to get consistently good or even decent starting pitching for basically their entire existence, so experimenting makes some sense and pairing pitchers is an interesting concept. Of course, it’s worth noting that the switch to a four-man rotation hasn’t really done much good so far.
Before the switch Rockies starters had a 6.28 ERA and since the switch Rockies starters have a 5.61 ERA. So they’ve been better but still really, really bad and the extra stress placed on relievers has caused the bullpen ERA to rise from 4.00 before the switch to 4.52 since. Basically all the improvement with the rotation has been canceled out by the bullpen getting worse (and throwing more innings).
Overall their team ERA was 5.38 before the switch and is 5.04 after the switch.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.