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Jays Dynamic Pitching Rotation Idea

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Jays Dynamic Pitching Rotation Idea

Postby teeks643 » 2014-May-Fri-11-05

Hey guys,

For other baseball fans out there, I have an outside-the-box idea for the Jays pitching rotation that I wanted to run by you.

It's no secret that the Jays are a mediocre team in a good division, and have been for a long time. My thought process on this idea is, why not? We've got a playoff run to gain, and not a whole lot to lose.

They showed a stat the other day that the Batting Average of opposing hitters against Dickey is .161 the first time through the order, .241 the second time and then a whopping .440 the third time. My idea is to utilize the knuckleballer throwing off the timing of hitters to the fullest extent. Never allowing the opposition to become comfortable at the plate in any given game. Here is how it would look...

Let's use the following pitching rotation as an example:

Dickey
Hutchison
Buehrle
Morrow
Stroman

Hutchison, Buehrle, Morrow and Stroman become the Jays Starting Pitchers (This 4-man rotation takes turns starting games). The starters go out and face the opposing hitters for the first 3 innings. They will see every hitter once (and most likely the top part of the order a second time, depending how many reach base). The opposition settles in to facing a regular pitcher before Dickey enters the game in the 4th inning. Dickey throws his once through the rotation to the tune of the .161 batting average (hopefully lower, considering the opposition is now accustomed to facing a regular pitcher this game) and then hands the ball over to the bullpen in the 7th or 8th inning before rolling into his .241 second time through the order. In a prototypical game using this dynamic system, opposing hitters will face a hard thrower, the knuckleball, and then back to a hard thrower throughout the course of the game.

I know using Dickey every day is a stretch, but the fact that he is throwing low-stress pitches doesn't make it impossible, and he has shown the ability to throw a lot of pitches without problem. This concept would also allow for some flexibility: If the starter has clearly brought his A-game to the ballpark on any given day and is mowing down batters, allow him to pitch his 6-8 innings instead of 3. Bring a reliever in to mop up at the end if need be. This helps give Dickey a day off every now and then.

Now obviously this concept would be most effective if the non-Dickey starters were all hard throwers, so it'd probably be best to replace Buerhle with someone who hits low to mid 90s on his fastball.

The biggest hurdle here is definitely having the Starters buy-in and having to adjust their training regimens. It would be a huge change in how they prepare their arms and adjusting the amount of pitches they are throwing and how often. Not to mention the fact that the 4-starters would need to selflessly accept that their stats are going to be haywire (they would never even qualify for a win, except for those occasions when they pitch into the 6-8th inning). Traditional baseball minds (or all baseball minds) will hate the fact that this makes an absolute mess of pitching statistics. If you could get the pitching staff on board though, I think it would be really interesting to see how this would play out. And why not?

Thoughts? Feelings? Concerns?
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Re: Jays Dynamic Pitching Rotation Idea

Postby Golfnut77777 » 2014-May-Fri-12-05

That is insane thinking. No way you could get 1 starting pitcher to go with that, lettle own 4. Their stats are what makes them a pitcher. Who wants a pitcher that only pitches 3 innings to be a starter. Not one of those starters is going to stay with the Blue Jays for their entire career. Not to mention even trying to get a coach to think this way.

The other reason for this being insane is consistency! From my ball playing days (which does still include now! albeit slowpitch) one of the most important things to a teams chemistry and the teams ability to win is consistency. If you have a pitcher that can go 5-6 innings every single time they are pitching, do their 100 pitches and then have the bullpen take over and consistently maintain the lead of a game, that is what brings a winning team together.

You are essentially making Dickey a middle reliever with this equation. One reason why pitchers tend to do worse the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time through a teams batting order is because their stuff (arm) is getting weaker and therefore they have lost velocity and movement on their pitches. Although a knuckle ball pitcher gets tons of movement, and unpredictable movement on the ball, the velocity tends to be much slower. Bringing Dickey in as a middle reliever defeats the purpose bringing in a middle reliever in my opinion. I believe you bring in a reliever, whether middle or ending of a game, to bring back the velocity and movement that the batters couldn't hit at the beginning of the game.

The other thing is, you can look at your assessment of how to use the pitching for the blue jays as how you should use pitching for any team. Only let the pitchers (where a knuckle baller or fast baller or a junk thrower) pitch to the batters only once. I am sure if you look at the averages of 95% of the pitchers in the league you will find the same kind of Hitters Average changing through out the game. That is the reason you usually want to pull a starting pitcher at the first sign of trouble. Most coaches feel obligated to letting their starters going 5 innings and that is where blowouts happen.

Have you heard of a coach leaving a pitcher in the game when the other team has scored 9 runs on that one pitcher? It happened the other day. Miami scored 9 runs in the first 5 innings. They scored 4 runs in the second inning. I am willing to bet if the Braves pitcher was pulled in the second, the Marlins would not have scored 5 more runs in the next 3 innings!!!!!!!!!!! To me, this was a coach trying to please his starting pitcher by keeping him in the game. The Braves ended up scoring 3 runs in the last 4 innings of the game and losing 9-3. Would it have been a different game or possibly a different outcome if they would have pulled the starter in the 2nd inning and not the 5th. A 4-3 game is a game you have a chance to come back and win in the 9th inning. A 9-3 game isn't. If the starter would have went 5 innings without having a run scored, and then the Marlins score 4 runs in the 5th, do you think that starter would have finished the 5th inning? I doubt it. So why let him finish the 2nd and even start the 3rd/4th or 5th inning if they scored 4 runs on him in the 2nd? But this is the thinking of teams/managers/pitchers in the league and I don't see it changing.

Look at "Moneyball". That was a major change in how the league thinks about their lineups, but you still have over 75% of the leagues teams playing the same baseball they were in the 90s. Only a few teams implore the ideas brought to the table in Moneyball.

Your idea, although I find it to be insane IMO, may work for a little while, 10 game stretch or something like that, but eventually, I think it would blow up in the face of the manager that tried it and their team would be far worse off with that type of system.
Last edited by Golfnut77777 on 2014-May-Fri-12-05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jays Dynamic Pitching Rotation Idea

Postby teeks643 » 2014-May-Fri-01-05

You missed the most important factor in this concept, and that was going from a hard thrower to a knucker and back to a hard thrower to keep hitters extremely off-balance. Saying that Dickey is going to be "just another middle reliever" completely misses the point. And the reason why hitters hit the knuckleball a lot more the second time through has nothing to do with declining velocity. It has to do with getting used to hitting the knuckleball on that day. By only having hitters see it once (especially after seeing a hard fastball the first time through) I am thinking that hitters are going to be thrown way out of balance at the plate.

The main point of this was to utilize the fact that hitters clearly have trouble hitting the knuckler the first time through, and have far more success with it on subsequent at-bats.

Obviously this is an insane idea, because it is extremely outside of the box. Do I see anyone actually ever trying it? Absolutely not. I agree with you that convincing any starter to buy into this system would be next to impossible. I also didn't mean to imply that you would try this with any type of middle reliever, as that would defeat the purpose entirely. I was talking specifically of using a knuckleballer because that's what the Jays have in their rotation.

Of course having starting pitchers consistently throw 100 pitches into the late innings is going to win ball games. That works for teams with a really strong starting rotation. The point I was trying to make is, how often does that work out well for a starting pitching staff as weak as the Jays have this year?

I am just throwing this idea out there as an interesting way to do things a lot differently for a club that really doesn't have much chance to win.
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