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.
Rockies reliever Seunghwan Oh recently said to the Yonhap News Agency that he wanted to return to South Korea to finish out his career. He has one year and $2.5 million remaining. His 2019 club option became guaranteed when he reached 70 appearances in the 2018 regular season. It sounded like Oh didn’t want to pitch for the Rockies next season. Oh said, “I am a bit exhausted after spending five seasons in Japan and the United States. I feel like I want to return to the KBO while I still have the energy to help the team and pitch in front of home fans. I can’t make this decision alone. I’ll have to speak with my agency about the next season.”
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has a different sense of the situation, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Bridich said, “From what we have been told, it was much ado about nothing regarding Oh. His comments to the Korean media were not specifically about 2019. It was more about ending his career there. Our understanding is that he has every intention of honoring his current contract.”
Oh, 36, pitched 68 1/3 innings this past season between the Blue Jays (47 innings) and Rockies (21 1/3). In aggregate, he posted a 2.63 ERA with a 79/17 K/BB ratio in 68 1/3 innings. The Rockies have the bulk of their bullpen returning next year, save for Adam Ottavino who is a free agent.