Six-man rotation

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 31, 2013 at 11:03 PM

There is talk, apparently, that the six-man rotation could be a solution to the A's inability to decide between Dan Straily and Bartolo Colon for the last spot in the rotation. This strikes me as ineffably silly, though I'm not going to go 1,500 words deep to tell you why.

It comes down to this: Why would you "penalize" Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker because you're not sure whether you'd rather have Straily or Colon? (By which I really mean, "Why would you penalize the team by taking innings away from Anderson and Parker?) The A's are not, all fan-based optimism aside, any kind of a lock to be at the top of their division. They cannot afford mistakes. In particular, they cannot afford to take innings from someone who you'd expect to wind up with perhaps a 3.5 ERA (Anderson) and give them to someone who you'd like to have a 4.2 ERA (Straily, Colon). The five-man rotation is a necessary evil due to the difficulties of pitching in the modern era. The six-man rotation is an abomination.

Would the A's carry fewer relievers to balance the rotation situation? I would guess not—it seems unlikely that you would expect your six starters to go deeper in games than you do your five. Are you going to stretch your starters to 120 pitches when you'd normally only go 105 because they'll get an extra day off? (And even if you do, are you actually gaining anything? Performance appears to decrease as the game wears on, either from fatigue or batter familiarity or some combination of the two.)

What's so wrong with burning an option on Straily and letting him come up when someone gets hurt or when Colon or A.J. Griffin or Tom Milone is ineffective? Pitchers get hurt—it's in the nature of what they do. What exactly is the harm in keeping Straily in Sacramento for a few months in anticipation of such happening? Why would anybody be so hot to avoid it?