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Thursday, July 10, 2003

 
Harold Reynolds, pulling a Joe Morgan: I'm not going to pick on HR too much. (The reference, by the way, is apparent when you look at The Adventures of Little Joe over at Aaron's Baseball Blog. Or just read Moneyball.) But tonight he was screaming for the Reds to end their 4-man rotation experiment. Mind you, they've been doing it for nine days. NINE. DAYS. That's an atrocious sample size if I ever saw one. Maybe I'm biased, because I think 4-man rotations are a good thing to try (Baseball Prospectus ran a great three-part series on the 4-man rotation, which can be found here, here, and here.)

Interestingly enough, it was the Reds as predicted in the article, that pulled out the four-man rotation. It was officially begun on July 1st, after Jimmy Anderson's horrible start on June 26 (5 IP, 11 ER), after which he refused his demotion to the minors and became a free agent. The four-man rotation would be Danny Graves, Paul Wilson (after serving a suspension for charging Kyle Farnsworth), Ryan Dempster, and Jimmy Haynes.

Here are their ERA's on June 30th.

Graves, 4.93; Wilson, 4.63; Dempster, 6.21; Haynes, 5.90.

So, as you can see, they weren't exactly lighting up the world to begin with. And now they're 2-7 under the 4-man rotation, including 7 losses in a row. As the article states, the only reason the four-man rotation would begin to hurt pitchers is if they had high pitch counts in their starts. Beginning June 1st, here are the Reds' starters' pitch counts.

Graves, 101; Wilson, 99; Dempster, 75; Haynes, 103; Graves, 80; Wilson, 90; Dempster, 85; Haynes, 117; Graves, 91.

Reynolds's concern is over Graves' start tonight (June 9th). And rightfully so. 5 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HR. Were this an abnormal start for Graves, one would be concerned. However, Graves just isn't a good pitcher. He's given up 17 HR in 17 starts (entering tonight). And it's not like he hasn't been hammered before. June 5 vs. NYY, 3 IP, 6 ER. April 4 at CHC, 5 IP, 6 ER. OK, so admittedly, this is close to his worse start of the year. But I don't think it's a product of three days' rest. The last time he was on three days' rest, he threw 6 innings of no-hit ball against the Mets! In fact, in the nine days of the experiment, 6 have produced starts of 4 ER or less, including 4 Quality Starts (6+ IP, 3 or less ER). The true test for Graves will be his next start, scheduled for the Sunday before the All-Star break in Milwaukee. Then everyone gets three days' rest (which probably would have been a better time to start the experiment, admittedly).

In fact, if you wanted to tweak the Reds' rotation in any way, get Ryan Dempster out of there! He wasn't exactly lighting it up before the experiment, and is pitching just as bad now. In two starts, his stats are: 8 IP, 13 ER, 15 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 3 HR. If you're scoring at home, that's a 14.63 ERA. And that's in only 160 pitches! Send him to the bullpen. Now. Who to replace him? How about Chris Reitsma? He's made 3 starts, none since May 9th, in which he gave up 5 ER in 4.1 IP in Milwaukee. Not a glowing endorsement. Neither is his previous start before that, 9 ER in 5 IP in Colorado. But in fairness, it was in Colorado. His third start was a gem against the Dodgers, 8 IP, 0 ER. (We know the Dodgers can't hit, but 8 innings of shutout ball is something.) Want more evidence? How about a 3.64 ERA in 2002? 32 appearances, 21 starts. He's also 25. Give him a chance, Bob Boone. And don't let naysayers like Harold Reynolds keep you from continuing the four-man rotation. Heck, you're having enough trouble finding FOUR good starting pitchers, let alone five.

(Note: Any non-linked stats are probably grabbed from Bigleaguers.com on Yahoo!.)

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