Rethinking the rotation: Four-and-swing?

20 Comments

Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan is always good for a big idea column or two each month, and his latest is one that I’ve long been arguing half-drunkenly to anyone who will listen (i.e. no one):  chucking the straight five-man rotation and going to a modified four-man thing. The idea would be to keep your four best on a firm four-days-rest schedule, skipping the fifth guy as often as possible.

As Passan shows, using the Tigers, Rangers and Angels as his examples, such a plan gives your team’s four best guys anywhere between one and three extra starts and simultaneously takes away that many starts from your worst starter.  And if you’re smart about who that worst starter is, you can give yourself something that is a vanishing breed: a bona fide long man/mopup man in the pen.

Passan notes the obstacles to this, chief among them that baseball people tend not to engage in too much original thinking unless they can help it, but he makes all kinds of sense in my view.

Problems?  Other ideas?  That is, other ideas keeping in mind that no one is going to go to a straight four-man rotation in this day and age.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

Getty Images
4 Comments

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.