Option One: Have NINE pitchers who each pitch THREE innings every THREE games
Option Two: Have EIGHT pitchers who each pitcher FOUR or FIVE innings every FOUR games.
Option Three: Have SIX guys who pitch SIX innings every SIX games AND ONE OR TWO innings halfway inbetween.
Option Four: Use a phase-in system, when you start by replacing ONE starter who’s supposed to go SIX to EIGHT innings with TWO guys supposed to go FOUR or FIVE. Both of these guys would definitely be available to pitch an inning of relief after one game off.
The current system seems out of whack to me. Why can’t starters pitch more often? They did years ago. Don’t give me those old arguments: They throw harder now, the old guys pitched with serious injuries, hitters are better now. Nonsense. I’m inclined to believe: Pitching infrequently is bad for pitchers. They’re babied. They don’t run. They’re out of shape. And that’s why often break down. It’s like this (perhaps): Pitch your guts out (well, not all your guts, considering some of these paunchy palookas), then sit and let your arm atrophy. Then go pitch with an atrophied arm. So advantage 1: Pitchers would stay healthier.
2. You’d save money. “Starters” who are supposed to go six or seven innnings (but often don’t) cost huge money. But four inning guys? They’re not in demand, so they should be cheap.
3. Pitchers throwing fewer innings can throw harder.
4. Opposing teams wouldn’t get that third time around the batting order where they start to get their timing and expectations down.
5. You’d often get an extra hitter up to bat if you subbed the starter out the second time he bats.
6. You don’t wait for rallyies to begin and get out of control.
7. You might time your switch so a fresh guy faces the top of the foe’s batting order.
Makes sense to me. Which option to use depends on (a) what kind of pitchers you have or could get, and (b) which setups prove by experience / experiment to work best.
One drawback, which suggests a rule change: Guy who starts and pitches four great innings can’t, by rule, get the win. That’s stupid. Change the rule, make him eligible, if he gave up the fewest runs. Of course, a team could alternate who starts and who pitches second (with a chance to win). So Bob does innings 1-4 today, Tom 5-8, then they switch the next time.
Here’s another pitching idea: Making Pitchers Pitch.