The Six-Man Rotation Is A Stupid Idea

There was a lot of talk before the start of yesterday’s game about the Mariners going to the 6-man rotation.  For starters (ahem), the five men we have in there now – Felix, Iwakuma, Young, Elias, and Paxton – have all done pretty well for themselves throughout the year (when healthy, of course).  On top of that, Erasmo Ramirez had been rock solid from June onward (in stints in both Tacoma and Seattle).  And, while Taijuan Walker has been shaky since returning from his shoulder injury, he’s another Major League-calibre arm who’s due to be called up in September.

So, the Mariners have the arms, and one could argue the Mariners also have the need.  Today is Thursday, August 28th.  It is an off-day for the Mariners.  After today, the Mariners have just one off-day left; it’s sandwiched between a stretch of 13 straight games and a stretch of 17 straight games to close out the season.  30 games in 31 days, in the final month of the season.

Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but can I say that this schedule is some BULLSHIT?  I know that’s an argument that pretty much everyone makes, but you’d think with Seattle being the team that has to travel the most every single year, they’d TRY to make some concessions to lighten our load even a LITTLE bit.  Like, for instance (please pull out your little pocket calendar and follow along):

  • DON’T give us two off-days in the second week of the season – two days apart – and then make us play 30 games in 31 days to finish the season!  We don’t need four fucking off-days in the first month when we’re deprived of off-days in both May and September!
  • DON’T keep splitting up our Texas road trips!  We have Houston and the Rangers in the same division; how about we play them both back-to-back once in a fucking while?
  • DON’T make us play a game in the Eastern Time Zone one day (Miami in April, Tampa in June, Boston in August, Toronto in September) and then make us turn around and play a fucking home game THE VERY NEXT DAY!

Anyway, getting back to my original point, the Mariners are about to embark on the toughest stretch of baseball in the entire season.  If we end up missing out on the playoffs, thank the schedule-makers (and, for good measure, thank the fact that we play in the toughest division in baseball).  You can look back over past seasons and see how starting pitchers have worn down in the month of September and yeah, it sounds like a good idea.  The 6-man rotation.  We’ve got six guys!  What could possibly go wrong?

Now, I’m not going to blame yesterday’s loss entirely on Erasmo Ramirez – if you want to give Cano a day at DH, either give LoMo or Morales a day off and DON’T put them both in the field, for the love of GOD! – but what would you rather see out there:  a fresh Erasmo Ramirez every sixth day, or your regular five guys going with tired arms?  When, in reality, that’s not totally accurate, because Paxton has missed most of the season anyway, so you’re only talking about four guys.  And even then, Iwakuma missed the first month of the season … and you get the idea.  Moving on.

Everyone continues to throw Felix’s Septembers in my face, to which I will counter:  Felix’s 2010 September.  When he has something to play for, he finds a way to gut out some quality starts.  In 2011-2013, he hasn’t had a damn thing to play for and everyone knows it.  Maybe he was truly tired in those years down the stretch, or maybe he took his foot off the gas.  He probably wouldn’t admit to either, but the point is:  it doesn’t matter.  What he did in 2011-2013 has no bearing on what he’s doing in 2014.  If it did, then you SURELY would have predicted that he’d be having his greatest season ever, right?  Oh, you mean you didn’t predict his greatest season ever?  It just happened, somewhat in defiance of all the numbers he put up in past seasons?  All right then.

Look, it’s tough enough to find five starting pitchers you’re comfortable with.  Most teams have to settle for a fourth and/or fifth guy who’s simply healthy and can eat up innings for your losing season.  The Mariners are somewhat blessed with the pitching depth they have right now; it sure as shit didn’t look this deep at the beginning of the season, when everyone was dropping like flies!  But, it doesn’t mean the Mariners have the perfect rotation.

Roenis Elias is still a rookie and appears to be fading down the stretch.  James Paxton is dynamic as a Major Leaguer, but he’s going to run into a bad game here and there.  Even someone like Felix isn’t immune; we’re going to be facing nothing but difficult teams from here on out.  And Chris Young is certainly a better pitcher at home than he is on the road (remember, 18 of our final 30 are on the road).  More than anything, you’re WEAKENING our chances by going with a 6-man.  Because Erasmo Ramirez is not a viable starting pitcher in this league.  At best, he’s a so-so long reliever and a spot starter under duress (you know, like when someone goes down with injury or something; NOT when you just want to rest certain guys every once in a while).

If it’s me, I’ll take my chances with Felix’s tired arm.  Yes, Erasmo has put up some zeroes this year, but he’s a bullpen-straining machine who can’t go more than 4 innings without getting into some serious trouble and needing to be pulled from the game.

No, it’s not all doom and gloom because we got crushed 12-4 in our most lopsided loss of the season yesterday afternoon, but it might be if we continue to dick around with this idea of giving everyone extra rest.  Is an extra day per week in September REALLY going to magically return these arms back to their May stamina?  Fuck no!  So, let’s stick with what’s working, and that’s keeping Erasmo Ramirez as far away from the pitching mound as humanly possible.

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