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.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.