The Colorado Rockies are returning to a five-man pitching rotation after last season’s four-man rotation experiment. Adding a twist, Colorado will cary three long relievers instead of the traditional one.
The Colorado Rockies will bring back a five-man rotation after experimenting with a four-man rotation in 2012. Last season’s four-man rotation was a disaster. The Rockies finished the year with a franchise worst 64-98 record.
In their four-man rotation, Colorado Rockies starting pitchers were pitching every four days instead of the traditional five days. Starting pitchers were also held to a strict 75 pitch limit to try and offset pitching more often.
Coors Field, where the Rockies play, is a massive ballpark that sits 1,600 feet above sea level. Because of the high altitude, the park has a low air density. As a result Coors Field is one of the highest scoring parks in baseball.
In 2002 the Colorado Rockies introduced the humidor to increase ball density and level the playing field. In some respects the humidor has been a success. For pitchers, the park remains the hardest to pitch at.
The Colorado Rockies tried a four-man rotation last year in an attempt to make pitching easier. Instead they had a team ERA of 5.97 at home. That ranked worst in baseball.
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis had mixed emotions about pitching more, but on a 75 pitch limit:
“In some ways, it was cool being out there more often. Three days’ rest, it felt like you were pitching more. But as starters, you pride yourself on going deep in games and being a horse. That was hard to adjust to.”
The Colorado will go back to a five-man rotation with no pitch count limit. This year the team will experiment with carrying three long relievers. Normally teams will cary one long reliever, maybe two, as insurance against an ineffective starter.
Carrying three long relievers is a move that makes great sense for the Colorado Rockies. Because it’s so hard to be an effective pitcher at Coors Field, it’s safer to carry three insurance policies instead of one. The move should take stress off of starters feeling like they have to be perfect every game.
Were you a fan of the Rockies four-man rotation? Are they trying the right experiment this year?