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

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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.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.