Big League Chew: Could Blue Jays use 6-man rotation?


It wasn’t that many years ago that the Toronto Blue Jays rotation only consisted of a number 1 and number 2 starter, filled in with a handful of cast-offs poising as end of the rotation starters. Those days seem to be a thing of the past. The 2015 Blue Jays rotation could consist of two of the more promising young pitchers in the American League East in Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris.

With Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman, Daniel Norris, and Aaron Sanchez all under 25 years old, protecting their arms has to be paramount. An innings limit will be imposed on Stroman, Norris, and Sanchez…not Hutchison, who should reach 200IP for the first time in his career. So how does John Gibbons limit the innings of arms that are expected to play a vital role in the upcoming season?The New York Yankees may have the answer. The Yankees have 30 games in 31 days between April and May. With several of the Yankees key arms coming back from season ending injuries in 2014, a 6-man rotation will be used, at least during this stretch, to lessen the load on their recovering starters.

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Could John Gibbons utilize a 6-man rotation to prevent Norris, Stroman, and Sanchez from being shut down in the midst of pennant run?

RM: In principle this is a great idea, but not for Toronto. A solid bullpen is required for this to work and that doesn’t appear to be a luxury the Jays current have. It’s possible the starters could pitcher deeper into games, which would actually lighten the load the bullpen would otherwise need to shoulder, but what if the starters go through a bad stretch?

SD: Then they go through a bad stretch. The same way they always do. A 6-man rotation would minimize a stretch of poor performances. Rather than have 3 bad starts in a row, they’d get 2. As for the bullpen, this has been beaten to death, but Norris and/or Sanchez are starters. IF (HUGE if) the Blue Jays put Sanchez in the bullpen, it would be as a closer. That doesn’t seem in the cards. So, one of those two would be headed for Buffalo. As a starter. They are ready to be big league starters now. Let them. Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey are locks for 200 innings. Hutchison threw a whole season in 2014. It looks like he’s over his surgery. After that…it’s questionable. Stroman didn’t really throw a full year. Their bullpen experiment pretty much gave him an innings limit at the big level. In total he threw 165 if you include AAA. Norris hit 130 total innings. Sanchez hit 133 total. If the Blue Jays want to maximize their young guns, perhaps they want to keep them under a full season. 6 starters would do that.

RM: Until Major Baseball increase rosters from 40 to 42, the dream of a 6-man rotation is just that….a dream. I agree that Norris and Sanchez deserve to be in the rotation and expect as some point in the season they will be; however, their youth will still provide many ups and downs….regardless of how the rotations structured.

SD: It may be a dream, but it is one worth looking at. I can’t believe I am about to say this, but right now, the Blue Jays have 6, SIX, reasonable options as starters. SIX! Whether it is Norris or Sanchez, keeping a bullet for later seems like a waste. One of them is just biding his time in AAA. Why not take an unusual step to get the most out of the roster you have. Just because it is not standard, doesn’t mean they can’t try it. Sometimes you have to work with what you have. If this gives them an advantage over the other teams and can potentially protect the arms they do have, why not consider it?

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  • Last words

    RM: As for the 6 viable options, you’re right. Until you’re not. Every spring there are injuries‎, underachievers, waiver wire pick ups, and hopefully lots of surprises. The commish should look at moving to a 6-man rotation to protect the stars that help grow the game.

    SD: If they really want to protect and grow the game, keeping guys injury free should be a priority. But, the Blue Jays specifically, should consider using this during the 2015 season. It could help avoid those injuries and the necessity of those waiver claims, etc. It could also help them get the most out of the depth they possess.

    Next: How dangerous is Marcus Stroman's sinker?