Richard Jones - Should the Mets use a permanent six man rotation in 2017?


This is my first post for Mack's Mets. A little about who I am. I grew up on Long Island NY as a died hard Mets fan. I joined the Air Force out of High School. I am now a displaced Mets fan. I live near Dallas Texas where I am a High School math and history teacher. I mostly teach math, Algebra II and Geometry. Some of my students who had me for both suggest that I never attempt to teach English. This indicates that I can't promise there wont be spelling and grammatical mistakes in my post. I will do a better job than I usually do at proof reading but still no promises. Now lets get to it.

The idea of a permanent six man rotation. In reality most teams are already using a six man rotation. It's just that one of the six is being rotated to the DL because of Tommy John surgery. Over the last five or six years there has been an average of 30 Tommy John surgeries performed on MLB pitchers per year. Starters end up under the knife more frequently than relievers. It takes 12 to 18 months to recover and generally two seasons to get back to normal. Bradley Woodrum of mlbtraderumors supplied stats that showed the better a pitcher performed the more likely he was to end up under the knife. The lower a pitcher's earned run average the more likely he is to end up under the knife. He suggest this is because better pitchers are asked to pitch more often. I think it's because better pitchers have better stuff and better stuff requires more of the arm. There's also a connection based on how hard pitchers throw. All of that means that at any given time there are about 36 starters somewhere in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery and that they are above average starters as a whole.

If there was ever a team that was going to commit to a 6 man rotation it would be the Mets. Before we get into that lets look at some of the objections to a six man rotation.

1. A team's ace, who is likely getting paid a large sum of money, will lose 6 to 7 starts. You want him to pitch as much as possible. The 6 or 7 starts he loses will be picked up by someone with far less talent. That will likely result in more losses.

2. Pitchers will not be as sharp on 5 days rest as they would be on 4 days rest.

3. You lose a roster spot somewhere else or the starters have to go deeper into games which could increase their risk for Tommy John surgery.

So why would a six man rotation work for the Mets?

With the exception of Colon each pitcher in their rotation profiles at higher risk for Tommy John Surgery (including second Tommy John Surgery) than the average MLB pitcher. They throw harder and they have earned run averages below average. Both those factors contribute to a higher rate of Tommy John surgeries needed. The Mets are one of the few teams that have the depth to pull off a six man rotation. The Mets should have high expectations of playing in the post season. In both their last two trips to the post season their starters were far from 100%.

If the Mets come out of spring training in tact they could put forth a six man rotation of Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz, Wheeler, and Gsellman. Lugo and Colon ready to jump in if one of them is not ready. So back to objection number 1. The Mets would be giving 6 or 7 of Syndergaard's and deGrom's starts to Gsellman. Gsellman helped the Mets get to the post season this year. I trust him and I think he earned the opportunity to help us get there in 2017. That increases the chances of having Syndergaard and deGrom at 100% when you need them most. Having Gsellman, Lugo, or Colon as your number six minimizes objection number  1.

Objection 2 is that pitchers will not be sharp on 5 days rest. I currently live near Arlington TX, home of the Texas Rangers. Even before Yu Darvish went under the knife he was advocating for a six man rotation. It was what he was used to and he performed well under those conditions. Japan and Korea are both using 6 man rotations. There are a lot of arm issues in Japan but not Tommy John type injuries. Most of the issues are attributed to the insane use of pitchers as amateurs. The lack of Tommy John surgeries needed suggest the 6 man rotation is working. Japan does have a 28 man roster. The manager does have to declare 3 players ineligible before each game. Pitchers in Japan and Korea don't have issues being sharp with 5 days of rest. They adjusted to that and Met pitchers can adjust to that.

Issue number 3 seems to be the biggest issue. MLB has to increase the rosters to at least 26 or 27 and allow teams to declare a player or 2 ineligible like Japan does. Until MLB does that they would have to build bullpen depth in their minors in rotate players through AAA for the bullpen.
Pitchers are getting bigger and stronger. However ligaments and tendons aren't keeping up with muscle and bone mass. So far MLB has not adjusted. They keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Albert Einstein spoke to this "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Paying players to rehab is more expensive than paying them to pay. I only mentioned pitchers missing time recovering from Tommy John surgery. It would also minimize other injuries  such as bone spurs and shoulder injuries. 

The Mets are the team most likely to benefit from a six man rotation and the team in the best situation to implement it.


Reese Kaplan said...

Welcome aboard, Richard.

The 6-man rotation has some merit to it until people are off their innings limits. That could prove to be the entirety of the 2017 season. The problem is that if you have the so-called Fab Five, plus Colon, what then becomes of Lugo, Gsellman, and, to a lesser extent, Ynoa? Are they merely AAA insurance against injuries or do they get miscast as relievers?

Richard Jones said...

Your objection seems to be based on the six man rotation being a success. If our six best starters are successful and stay healthy what do we do with our 7th, 8th, and 9th starter. I don't have the answer for that but it would be a great problem to have. My proposal would have a fab five plus Gsellman. Colon a long man in the pen. That would be plan A. Even under a six man rotation I wouldn't put a 100% in being able to stick to it. So Colon in Lugo would still likely get some starts. If we find that the six man rotation works out perfect and no starter ever goes to the DL again I'm sure there are teams the would love to trade for Lugo and Ynoa.

Mack Ade said...

Richard -


Both -

The average amount of starting pitchers used by the 30 teams last year was 9+.

Injuries always creates plenty of innings to go around.

I could live a 5-man or 6-man rotation because it seems like this is the most talented position on the team. Get me one more quality back end reliever so all these guys will only be called upon to pitch 6 innings.

Wow... I can't believe I just said that.

Whatever happened to Bob Gibson?

Richard Jones said...

There are always anomalies to every situation or stat. The question is was Bob Gibson an anomaly or a norm as far as pitchers who threw as hard, as effective, and how often he did. Sandy Koufax is an example in the other direction. He had elbow issues before Tommy John. I read it was and UCL tear but I also read it was arthritis. So I'm not sure. As a whole pitchers throw harder now than they did then and there are more UCL injuries now than there were then.
There are likely pitchers who would endure the innings that guys like Gibson and Ryan racked up but is it worth blowing out 3 quarters of your staff to find out what pitchers would survive.

Richard Jones said...

Thanks for the photo. I'm pretty good with Photoshop. I should have thought of that.

Tommy2cat said...

Niese is gone. Otherwise, many question marks remain, to wit: the Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom & Matz and whether their arms will fully recover from off-season procedures.

Don't agree with 6-man rotation. Better to have 5-man rotation and rest an arm for a couple of weeks during the season, if the situation exists.

Thomas Brennan said...

Great article. I like the 6 man rotation, and a 26-27 man roster. Do it.

Zozo said...

Great article Richard, I totally agree with the 6 man rotation and raising the 25 man to a 27 man roster. Not only the Mets but all of baseball would be better off it went in that direction.
Now let's put in the DH rule in the NL!!!

Eddie Corona said...

Good Article... No to the DH...

bill metsiac said...

Interesting. In the days of Gibson, Koufax, Seaver, Feller, et al, teams used FOUR man rotations and SPs routinely threw 200+ IP. The Indians, in their last WS champ year, had 4 20-game winners.

And I'm sure there were many injuries, though we heard less about them, but it seems like the 5-man hasn't extended careers. I dunno what the 6 would do.

bill metsiac said...

Interesting. In the days of Gibson, Koufax, Seaver, Feller, et al, teams used FOUR man rotations and SPs routinely threw 200+ IP. The Indians, in their last WS champ year, had 4 20-game winners.

And I'm sure there were many injuries, though we heard less about them, but it seems like the 5-man hasn't extended careers. I dunno what the 6 would do.

Hobie said...

I think the success of a 6-man rotation depends on the success of a 6-man BP. I don't think you should short yourself a position player and I don't thing you're going to go much over 100 pitches even on a 6-day.

I've often thought about a strict 5-DAY (v. 5 G) rotation where if you get skipped if an off-day falls on your spot. Can't guarantee that would spread the rests evenly thru the rotation I suppose. Maybe that concept on a strict 6-DAY, with the skipped guy getting some BP assiment(s)? wdyt?

Thomas Brennan said...

I would not want it too regimented. Some teams could opt for that approach.

Thomas Brennan said...
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