The craziest idea I've had in a while
It will never happen. I don't even think it should happen. I'm not saying I want it to happen. I'm prefacing this post with that, and it will also be how I finish the post for one reason: there will be somebody who reads this idea of mine and thinks I'm serious, and will take time from his/her otherwise extremely busy day to scold me because it's so ridiculous.
Over in the GROTA shout box, we've been talking about pitching decisions. One reader made the point that if the Cubs traded for Peavy, then Sean Marshall would have to be demoted back to the bullpen - eliciting a series of "duhs" from the listening audience. But this got me thinking ...
What if a team essentially went with a 10 man pitching staff, comprised entirely of starters? They would all be pitchers relegated to entering games on certain days, regardless of match-ups, and they would throw a certain number of innings regardless of consequences. Think about it.
There would be 5 pitchers responsible for starting regularly. They would throw a maximum of 5 innings per start. Never more, never less (unless they were just getting rocked).
After 5 innings pitched, no matter what the score, the "relief pitcher" would come in and throw the remaining 4 innings of the game.
In other words, the 5 starters, if healthy, would average about 160 innings a year. No arm strain there. The 5 relievers would average about 128 innings pitched a year.
For example, if it were to happen this year, it would probably resemble something like this:
Innings 1-5 Carlos Zambrano; Innings 6-9 Sean Marshall
Innings 1-5 Ryan Dempster; Innings 6-9 Neal Cotts
Innings 1-5 Ted Lilly; Innings 6-9 Chad Gaudin
Innings 1-5 Rich Harden; Innings 6-9 Jeff Samardzija
Innings 1-5 Aaron Heilman; Innings 6-9 Kevin Hart
A few factors to note with this ridiculous concept:
- If the starter is a righty, if possible the reliever should be a lefty
- If the game goes to extra innings, the reliever should be capable of throwing into the 12th inning. After that point, it might be necessary to have an 11th spot reliever/starter to step in and go the rest of the distance, however long it might take.
The basic premise of this concept is that starting pitchers are, on a whole, supposed to be better than relievers. Obviously there are relievers who are outstanding at their roles - Carlos Marmol - but it would be a way to 1. save the arms of your starters and 2. get you as many as 3 or 4 saves leaders per season, because any time those relievers inherited a game with a lead, they'd likely be up for the save.
Of course, it would never work. No pitcher would want to be a part of that program. Even if it was a sound concept - and it's not - and your team won, say, 100 games with this kind of pitching staff, the wins would be very evenly distributed between the 10 pitchers on the staff. Your "ace" might have 12 wins, 15 at the most, but since wins mean money he wouldn't want to pitch in such a regulated manner.
Meanwhile, your relievers would all want to be starters themselves and even if they averaged between 10-20 saves each, they'd be pretty unhappy with their situations.
Besides, it will never happen. I don't even think it should happen. I'm not even saying I want it to happen. This is just a process of thinking aloud about a very strange and stupid concept.