“Strategy” With the Rotation: Dusty and His Staff Have Some Interesting Options in the First Two Weeks

Although it doesn’t sound like it’s official yet, Dusty seems to have decided that Max will pitch on Opening Day against the Braves in Atlanta, and Stras will get the home opener on April 7 against the Marlins.  That means Gio is the likely starter of our second game against the Braves.

This sounds like a good use of the Big 3 – the undisputed ace gets Opening Day, but Stras, the hoped for second ace, gets to pitch in the friendly confines of  Nats Park with 41,000 baseball starved Nats fans cheering him on.  (Ok, maybe 40,500. There might be 500 Marlins fans in the DC area, right?)  And the lefty Gio pitches in between the two fireballing righties.

 In addition to having two Opening Day honors to give out, Dusty has some interesting options for lining up the rotation because of the two off days during the first week.  He may want to use the off days to delay the first starts of our No. 4 and No. 5 starters.  Consider this possibility under which the Big 3 all pitch on regular rest, and Roark and Ross are designated our No. 4 and No. 5 starters to begin the season:

  • Apr. 4 — Braves — Max
  • Apr.5 — off
  • Apr. 6 — Braves — Gio
  • Apr. 7 — Marlins – Stras
  • Apr. 8 — off
  • Apr. 9 — Marlins — Max
  • Apr. 10 — Marlins — Roark
  • Apr. 11 — Braves — Gio
  • Apr. 12 — Braves — Stras
  • Apr. 13 — Braves — Ross

 Dusty could even give Max an extra day of rest by switching him with the Roark and still delay Ross’s first start until our 8th game of the season on April 13.  You’d still have the Big 3 pitching six of the first seven games of the season.  After that, you’d have a standard rotation as follows:

  •  Apr. 14 — Braves  — Max (or Roark)
  • Apr. 15 –-Phillies – Roark (or Max)
  • Apr. 16 – Phillies — Gio
  • Apr. 17 – Phillies– Stras
  • Apr. 18 – Marlins — Ross

 Teams have done this before.  Check out the starting pitchers for the Dodgers last year.  Don Mattingly took advantage of two off days in the first fifteen days of the season to  weeks to allow Kershaw and Greinke to start 8 of their first 16 games.


This strategy would be useful simply to get the Big 3 the maximum number of early starts and delay Ross’s accumulation of regular season innings.  (We expect he’ll be on some kind of innings limit, though no one has said what it will be.)  But if there’s a way to park the No. 4 and/or No. 5 starters in Syracuse until their first starts, their spots on the 25 man roster could be filled by an extra reliever or bench guy for the first week (or both).

Whether this is possible depends on the application at the beginning of the season of the rule that a player who is sent to the minors must spend 10 days there before coming back to the big club (except if he’s replacing a player sent to the DL). (If someone knows how the league applies this rule, please let us know in the comments and we’ll update the post.)

Photo with permission of Scott Ableman Flickr.com/photos/Ableman

Photo with permission of Scott Ableman Flickr.com/photos/Ableman

April 13 is the 10th day of the season, so it may be that a pitcher who starts the season in Syracuse cannot come up to pitch that game.  If that’s the case, one way to finesse it would be to give Yasmiro Petit the call for that game, and then slot Ross in on April 18. Or put Blake Treinen in the bullpen for the first three games, then rest him to take the Apr. 13 start, and send him down after his start to be replaced by MdD or another hitter, who would then be replaced by Ross on Apr. 18th. So the rotation would look like this:

  • Apr. 13  — Braves — Petit/Treinen
  • Apr. 14 — Braves  — Max
  • Apr. 15 –-Phillies — Roark
  • Apr. 16 – Phillies — Gio
  • Apr. 17 – Phillies– Stras
  • Apr. 18 – Marlins — Ross

 There are lots of permutations, but playing with the off days in this way would give Dusty twelve games to experiment with an eighth reliever and/ or a sixth bench bat.  Not a long time for Tyler Moore’s ninth life (h/t Ghost), but it’s something.

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