Should the Padres Deploy a Six-Man Rotation?

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Credit: AP Photo

The San Diego Padres have a plethora of pitching down on the farm, but at the major league level, there are still plenty of unknowns. Perhaps a six-man rotation will help ease the franchise’s young pitchers into action in 2019.

Six-man rotations have not been popular in Major League Baseball and are seldom used. Cole Hamels certainly voiced his displeasure last spring when Rangers manager Jeff Bannister was toying with the idea. With a team with a true ace or two, like Hamels, it might not make as much sense.

This might be shocking to some but the Padres do not have a true ace at the moment.

Is that ace on the way? It’s almost certain, just the question of “who?” Perhaps the Padres can answer that question with a six-man rotation this season, at least to start. Six-man rotations are not completely foreign to baseball, as they typically use it in college and Japan. Especially with the talk of possibly expanding rosters to 26 or 28 players in the near future, six-man rotations may become more popular.

For the Padres, it could be a matter of getting their best pitching prospects experience while also limiting their innings and maybe even service time. Currently, the projected rotation according to Rotochamp is Joey Lucchesi, Robbie Erlin, Bryan Mitchell, Eric Lauer, and Luis Perdomo. Matt Strahm, Jacob Nix, Chris Paddack, and Logan Allen are also competing for a spot.

The Padres have a lot of starting pitchers but at the same time, they have little to no top of the rotation types of pitchers. The jury is still out on Lucchesi and Lauer but one could argue the arms looming down on the farm (such as Paddack) could potentially knock them down a rung.

Why not slowly introduce these arms into the big leagues? A six-man rotation would be a good start.

Chris Paddack is gaining momentum and some, including myself, are clamoring for him to get the nod on Opening Day. If that doesn’t happen, he should still be allowed to get his feet wet in a less strenuous environment, such as a six-man rotation.

Having a six-man rotation means a few things. One, it will lessen the workload of the rotation as a whole, which could limit fatigue as the season gets into its dog days of late August and September, which could also help lessen the likelihood of injuries. The six-man rotation does not have to be equally divided into six pitchers all getting 27 starts over 162 games. The sixth man could be skipped when there are timely off days. The top of the rotation could still get 30-plus starts.

Here is a possible breakdown of a six-man rotation:

Pitcher Starts
Joey Lucchesi 30
Eric Lauer 30
Luis Perdomo 28
Robbie Erlin 26
Bryan Mitchell 26
Chris Paddack 22
Total 162

It would be a lot easier for a pitcher like Chris Paddack to be a regular part of the rotation and yet still be on an innings limit if he could be the sixth man in a rotation. Considering an uneven distribution of starts, with the top getting more than the bottom of the rotation, Paddack could easily round up 23 to 25 starts and be safely under an innings limit the Padres have on him.

If the Padres want to get creative with manipulating service time, they could use the sixth spot as a rotating “prospect” or unproven slot, with guys like Paddack, Logan Allen, Jacob Nix and Matt Strahm taking turns at that slot, while sending down guys with options still, thus preserving service time.

The cons to a six-man rotation would be, obviously, the top of the rotation would have fewer starts, which actually could be a benefit if they are more rested. Another could be the fact that this would mean taking up an extra roster spot, either having one less arm in the bullpen or one less position player substitute. One of Hamels’ complaints, when the Rangers toyed with the idea, was the effect on momentum and rhythm, with a pitcher going almost a week between starts.

All in all, the Padres would benefit from a six-man rotation to give their young pitchers experience and also keeping them within their innings limit and maybe even save a year of service time.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

6 thoughts on “Should the Padres Deploy a Six-Man Rotation?

  1. I remember in the days of four man rotations many teams had a fifth starter who was called a spot starter. Then it was mostly because of double headers that occurred on a lot of Sunday’s. There are no doubleheaders anymore but it seems the Padres play six days in a row sometimes and they could use a spot starter to keep starters on an every sixth day rotation that keep the innings down a little for all their young starting pitchers.

  2. Paddock will NOT be on the Opening Day Roster. Why put him on the roster and lose a year of control? He is only going to get 20-22 starts anyway. He will be up no later than May 15.

  3. Another factor is that Mitchell is out of minor league options. Though it might be more interesting for the club to use openers.

  4. Well I like the Out-of-the-Box thinking but not a Big Fan of the 6-Man rotation to start the year. I like the idea of covering one or two slots with a Split-Start, Starter, or Tandem, whatever term you would like to choose. With 3 or 4 full-time starters and a couple of extra swing starters, you could also skip a turn by someone like Paddack to keep him going throughout the season. When Lamet comes back has an impact on the 2nd half rotation also. Using Off-Days to skip Paddack once in awhile would work to limit his overall IP.

    I actually like how our rotation competition is going so far. For me I see it coming together. Mitchell and Perdomo are out, period. Lucchasi and Lauer have always been part of the Initial group of starters, they earned that last season, and have not shown any reason to have concern this spring. IMO, Strahm has put in the work to put himself on this staff, in fact he could be the ACE of this staff, and opening day starter, his spring has been that solid. Paddock is a BULLDOG, focused, with a very positive attitude. Quantrill has passed IMO Nix and Allen for the 5th spot for now but of my suggestion of a Tandem Slot in the rotation he and Allen could give it a go to start.

    2019 Starting Rotation
    Lucchasi
    Paddack
    Strahm
    Lauer
    Quantrill/Allen (Tandem)

    Fangraphs projections has our starting staff putting up 9.8 WAR combined. Along with our Bullpen they project our pitching to be 16th out of 30 in MLB, far from the dismal status that most media project as of now. I think that 9.8 for my suggested staff might be a low point, with 12-13 being the medium and 14-15 on the high side. Of course increased run production will play a big part in our final record and give these young pitchers a little margin for error that we have not had recently.

    1. Thanks, Nick. Keep it up!
      I agree with SDDon. If Perdomo/Erlin/Mitchell get about 80 starts, we pretty much guarantee a losing season. Strahm deserves to start. If Lamet can do the tandem start with Erlin, that could be a good flex plan along with the Quantrill/Allen mentioned above. 22 starts for Paddock seems reasonable for managing his comeback from TJ. I’m hoping they keep him consistently starting through the ASB, and then evaluate whether limiting him in August could leverage to some October baseball.

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