The Rockies will return to a traditional five-man rotation next year

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We heard late last month that the Rockies were planning to stick with a four-man rotation next year, but it turns out they will have a more conventional approach. Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett told Troy Renck of the Denver Post last night that the team will return to a traditional five-man rotation next season.

While the Rockies were limiting their starters to around 75 pitches, they will now work in the 90-100 range while starting on four days’ rest. The team plans to keep three “piggyback relievers” as a leftover from the experiment.

The Rockies had a 6.28 ERA from their starters when they made the switch in mid-June. They’ll enter play today with a 5.88 ERA, so while they have improved, that’s not saying much. Heck, that might have happened anyway if they stuck with five starters. The experiment also put added stress on their relievers, who rank 26th in the majors with a 4.66 ERA.

After analyzing the data and getting input from general manager Dan O’Dowd and manager Jim Tracy, it was ultimately decided that the team’s four-man rotation approach wasn’t feasible over a full season.

“There are issues in a lot of areas that put us where five is a better way to go as a standard rule. One, in terms of the length of the season, can the guys recover when you have all those consecutive days (of games)? We were in situations where we had to bump a guy back or use another guy,” Geivett told The Denver Post.

“Recovery was one. Development was another, because their side work was really limited between games. We were really limited on how much they could do to work on their delivery; that was difficult as well.”

The Rockies have struggled to find a pitching approach that works in Coors Field, so they deserve credit for trying something different while missing key cogs like Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin. It would have been nice to see them continue it with a better collection of talent, but perhaps someone will be inspired to take this concept and run with it in the future.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.