2023 Starting Rotation

Rovin Romine

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To unpack some of the bloat in the threads, perhaps we could discuss the pros and cons of our starting rotation here.

Depth (the numbers being a bit arbitrary):
1. Sale​
2. Paxton​
3. Pivetta​
4. Bello​
5. Kluber​
6. Whitlock​
7. Houck​
8. Crawford​
9+ Wincowski/Seabold/Mata/Walter​

Innings Projections:
There's a lot of volatility here, with Pivetta, Kluber, and Bello having prior-season full workloads.​
1. Sale 26/151​
2. Paxton 19/117​
3. Pivetta 32/185​
4. Bello 23/128​
5. Kluber 29/168​
*​
6. Whitlock 23/134​
7. Houck 15/117​
8. Crawford 10/80​
Obviously, some pitchers like Houck might be pressed into the pen, while others like Paxton might not be available for health reasons. (I had noted elsewhere that if the Sox thought Paxton was completely healthy, the option they chose not to exercise would have been a steal - but perhaps he is healthy enough to give them a projected half-season or something. It's a bit of a mystery.​
The * mark accounts for all but 33 starts from the "top 5." If they get only 19 starts out of Paxton and only 23 out of sale, they'll need to fill those remaining starts with Whitlock/Houck/Crawford or others. So, depending on health, perhaps a 6 man rotation does make a certain amount of sense - with perhaps #6 being carried as a piggyback starter for someone with a low innings total.​
(I suspect there might be a hidden cost to yoinking someone from a starting to a relieving role, so I think the Sox would do well to mitigate that - unless the pitcher is fully on board and there's no undue arm stress and so forth. Just speculation on my part though.)​
In terms of starting depth and taxing the pen, in the AL last year, the starter totals averaged 4.6 innings to 4.9. The average was 5.2 or 842 innings. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2022-starter-pitching.shtml
There our top 5 steamers are hardly disastrous, logging 749 innings. Add Whitlock/Crawford to cover the remaining starts and you've got 963. That would be well over average at 5.9 runs a game. Which seems suspect.​
Also the Sox might go the "twice through the lineup" route. . .so who knows? But I think Whitlock and Houck's arms give them a bit of depth here, in terms of capturing quality innings in non-start situations.​


The question of how good they might be I'll leave for another to post.
 

JM3

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I've been sort of playing around with optimal staff usage & this might be a good spot for it...

Kluber appeared to be a "once through the order" pitcher last year.

1st time: 2.75 ERA
2nd time: 5.15 ERA
3rd time: 6.23 ERA

Is there value to making him an opener?

Sale over the course of his career is elite the 1st time, with diminishing returns after:

1st time: 2.29 ERA
2nd time: 3.27 ERA
3rd time: 3.58 ERA
4th time: 4.18 ERA

Hard to extract too much from the recent seasons, but in 2019 it was 2.24, 6.93, 4.38. In 2018 it was 2.09, 1.62, 3.19. So...who knows? At least the 1st time through should be good.

Paxton has sort of a standard curve in his career...

1st time: 3.08 ERA
2nd time: 3.51 ERA
3rd time: 4.58 ERA

Bello last year (starting & relieving combined)...

1st time: 3.46 ERA
2nd time: 4.91 ERA
3rd time: 5.79 ERA

Whitlock last year (starting & relieving combined)...

1st time: 2.70 ERA
2nd time: 5.68 ERA
3rd time: 3.38 ERA (only 2.2 innings)

Houck career (starting & relieving combined)...

1st time: 1.53 ERA (0.96 as a starter)
2nd time: 4.53 ERA (4.12 as a starter)
3rd time: 14.23 ERA (6.1 innings)

Winckowski last year...

1st time: 3.10 ERA
2nd time: 8.44 ERA
3rd time: 6.17 ERA

Crawford last year(starting & relieving combined)...

1st time: 4.46 ERA
2nd time: 4.85 ERA
3rd time: 11.57 ERA

So...other than Crawford it looks like a bunch of guys who can give you a really good 1st time through, & a few who are solid through the 2nd time through.

So there has to be an optimal way to manage a staff with a bunch of guys who can give you ~3 really good innings, complemented by a fairly deep bullpen, right?
 

JM3

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Sorry, didn't add Pivetta:

1st time: 4.41 ERA
2nd time: 4.16 ERA
3rd time: 5.66 ERA
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Almost all pitchers are better the first time through the order, though. In a perfect world, you’d have a new pitcher each time through the order but that’s a quick way to burn out a staff, and inevitably you will find a pitcher who just doesn’t have it.

I also wonder, do batters get better against relievers the more they see them, too? Especially in a given series, season, etc?

Optimally, the planned rotation will be healthy and the team would have a couple of options as multi inning relievers. Beyond Houck and Whitlock, not sure I see those options among the current staff. Martin is a one inning guy, as are Brasier, Barnes, etc.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Barring injury, I think the Opening Day rotation will be the "aces of 2015-16 past" in Sale, Paxton, Kluber. Then Bello/Whitlock would naturally round it out, presuming they're 100% committed to Whitlock in the rotation. But you get the luxury of having a lot of swingman to rotate when there's injury / change Whitlock's role.
 

Rovin Romine

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So there has to be an optimal way to manage a staff with a bunch of guys who can give you ~3 really good innings, complemented by a fairly deep bullpen, right?
Well, I think there's a burnout factor to consider as Pentagine pointed out.

But if you had a wild swing in starter effectiveness (a la Houck?) you could do the piggyback option. You pair two mild starters to get one good one. You have the option of using the second man of the paired starters a day early or a day late, depending on what's going on with the bullpen and the actual start in hand - if Starter A is cruising through a weak club, let them go longer and maybe use a rested bullpen longman or something. So maybe in effect you've get a dedicated good-long-man ready to step in for your number 4 and 5 starters.

We saw that to some extent Whitlock in 2021 - even if a large part of that was Whitlock being managed so he rested a fixed set of days between appearing.

But I don't know if that increases your chance of winning across a season. I'd guess the potential downside would very much depend on the composition of the rest of the rotation and the bullpen. If you have other starters that can go deeper into games and more durable bullpen arms, it makes more sense. If you're essentially taking someone out of a bullpen of short arms who have to always cover starts for the rest of the staff. . .maybe not so much as you're just robbing Peter to routinely pay Paul.
 

amfox1

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I think I'd have a rotation of Sale/Paxton/Kluber/Whitlock/Pivetta (assuming complete health), with Houck piggybacked with Kluber, Crawford as the bulk reliever for everyone else and Bello, Winckowski, Mata, Walter and Murphy starting in AAA. JM3's post highlights the need for two bulk relievers, not that we didn't already assume we need them given the age and uncertain health of most of the rotation.

That leaves a six-man bullpen of Jansen (closer), Martin/Schreiber/Barnes (set-up men), Rodriguez (lefty out of the pen) and one of Kelly, Mills and Taylor (I'd prefer Kelly, but we might need a second lefty, Taylor) and Ort, Hernandez and German relieving in AAA. (I assume Brasier or Seabold will be DFA'd for Kluber and both will be DFA'd before the season)
 

LogansDad

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I think I'd have a rotation of Sale/Paxton/Kluber/Whitlock/Pivetta (assuming complete health), with Houck piggybacked with Kluber, Crawford as the bulk reliever for everyone else and Bello, Winckowski, Mata, Walter and Murphy starting in AAA. JM3's post highlights the need for two bulk relievers, not that we didn't already assume we need them given the age and uncertain health of most of the rotation.

That leaves a six-man bullpen of Jansen (closer), Martin/Schreiber/Barnes (set-up men), Rodriguez (lefty out of the pen) and one of Kelly, Mills and Taylor (I'd prefer Kelly, but we might need a second lefty, Taylor) and Ort, Hernandez and German relieving in AAA. (I assume Brasier or Seabold will be DFA'd for Kluber and both will be DFA'd before the season)
Unless Spring Training is a complete disaster, I see no way that Bello starts in AAA. Neither he nor the team gain anything from it. He was clearly ready for the MLB club by the end of last season, and if the team wants to compete he should be in the starting rotation. He might legitimately be the best current pitcher in the organization.

My rotation (assuming health) is: Sale, Bello, Pivetta, Kluber, Whitlock. Paxton starts in a long relief/piggyback role with one or more of Sale, Kluber and Whitlock to try to keep the mileage down. I think Houck is way more valuable out of the pen (the numbers above back that up), but will likely be the first guy pressed into starting duty when the inevitable injury occurs. I don't "like" this, as shuffling him back and forth between roles isn't ideal, but I think with the current construction of the staff it is the way I would go.

I think the bullpen is largely as you have, and I lean Taylor as the final guy (again, assuming health) because of the need for a LHP. It's a good pen, I think, but I hope if it is clear that Barnes is going to be Bad Barnes or Schreiber is closer to his last month of 2022 than earlier in the season that Kelly, Mills or German will be ready to step in quickly, and the team will be willing to take that action.
 

BaseballJones

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Opening Day rotation (barring injuries) ought to be:

Sale, Paxton, Kluber, Pivetta, Bello. Whitlock and Houck start the year in the bullpen. I agree with @LogansDad - Bello is ready. He probably can only throw about 160-170 innings max, and I don't want them wasting those innings in AAA. He's good enough for the majors. Yes there may be some bumps. Oh well.

Now, what to expect from these guys?

Sale
* Best-case scenario: He's healthy all year and gives the Sox 175 innings of an ERA in the high 2's or low 3's, with more than 10 k/9.
* Worse-case scenario: He gets hurt again and gives them about 30 innings of an ERA in the 4's.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 140 innings of an ERA in the mid 3's, which would be just dandy.

Paxton
* Best-case scenario: He's healthy all year and gives the Sox about 160 innings of an ERA in the mid 3's.
* Worst-case scenario: He gets hurt again and literally gives them nothing.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 120 innings of an ERA in the high 3's, which would also be just dandy.

Kluber
* Best-case scenario: He has one more good year in him and befuddles AL hitters to the tune of an ERA in the high 3's, giving the Sox about 175 innings.
* Worst-case scenario: He struggles as his velocity dips even more and his control suffers, and he gets absolutely lit up to the tune of a high 5's ERA.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 140 innings of mediocre results, with an ERA in the mid 4's, having some good moments but a bunch of bad ones too.

Pivetta
* Best-case scenario: He puts it all together and gives the Sox 200+ innings of low 3's ERA ball and is the backbone of the rotation.
* Worst-case scenario: He actually has to deal with some injuries and struggles, giving the Sox about 140 innings of low 5's ERA.
* What I think will happen: He is solid all year long. Not great, but not bad, and is pretty healthy. Write him down for 175 innings and an ERA in the low 4's.

Bello
* Best-case scenario: He emerges as one of the bright young pitching stars in the game and stays healthy. 165 innings at a low 3's ERA.
* Worst-case scenario: He has to start in AAA or struggles in MLB early and gets demoted. Can't stop walking people. Gives the Sox about 75 innings at an ERA around 5.
* What I think will happen: He starts the year in AAA but dominates there and by May the Sox have him up for good. He gives them about 130 innings in the high 3's and we are seeing the beginning of a tremendous career.

Now, if the worst-case scenarios happen, this team is obviously screwed. If the best-case scenario happens, they'll absolutely go to the playoffs. Neither of those will likely happen in full. I expect at least one of these guys to get their best-case scenario, and one of them to get their worst-case scenario. But if that happens, and the average is in the range of my "what I think will happen" scenarios, then the rotation should be pretty decent. Not great, not anywhere near elite, but pretty decent. Good enough to keep them in the playoff race if the offense shows up.
 

JM3

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I think I'd have a rotation of Sale/Paxton/Kluber/Whitlock/Pivetta (assuming complete health), with Houck piggybacked with Kluber, Crawford as the bulk reliever for everyone else and Bello, Winckowski, Mata, Walter and Murphy starting in AAA. JM3's post highlights the need for two bulk relievers, not that we didn't already assume we need them given the age and uncertain health of most of the rotation.

That leaves a six-man bullpen of Jansen (closer), Martin/Schreiber/Barnes (set-up men), Rodriguez (lefty out of the pen) and one of Kelly, Mills and Taylor (I'd prefer Kelly, but we might need a second lefty, Taylor) and Ort, Hernandez and German relieving in AAA. (I assume Brasier or Seabold will be DFA'd for Kluber and both will be DFA'd before the season)
I pretty much agree with the composition of a modern staff. Having about 8 guys who can give you 3+ innings on any given night is probably ideal, but 2 bulk relievers is ok if they are guys who don't need 5 days if they pitch 3 innings.

I would 100% start the season with Bello in the rotation, though (as Logans Dad mentioned). If Paxton is healthy, I would rather trade Pivetta as part of a package to fix up another weak area, or even for pitching prospect depth, than relegate Bello to a shuttle.

I think Rovin's idea of having them able to shift either direction makes sense, too, rather than a pure piggyback.

If the Sox were really cruel, though, they would start Houck & piggyback Kluber on him to ensure that he misses all his contract incentives (I don't believe that will actually happen).
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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I hope we add more starting pitching. Full stop.

Just to address only what we already have, the only real downside to adding a guy like Kluber is if you lose the opportunity to see what young guys could give you in the rotation for the future and to see if they could be part of the next core, and I don't want that to happen.

I start the season: *Kluber, Whitlock, Bello, Pivetta and Houck.

Bull pen is: Jansen (closer) then in no particular order Barnes, Martin, Rodriguez, Schreiber, Crawford and Winckowski for bulk relief pitchers and whomever pitches the best in camp.

(*Yes, if Sale is available without damage to his shoulder like 2018, his elbow like 2019, breaking a rib like 2022, breaking a finger like later in 2022, or falling off his bike and breaking a wrist to put 2022 in the books or whatever else he gets the ball in game 1, we go to a 6 man rotation and that last guy is taken out of the bullpen. I'm hopeful that happens, I'm not really planning on it, per se, and will be pleasantly surprised when it does.)

Short of some 2021 style unexpected great start, I'd spend the entire season seeing if Whitlock, Bello and Houck can be starters for the core of the team moving forward. If one proves totally incapable of being a starting pitcher worth any salt, move that one to the bullpen and bring up your choice of Mata, Murphy or Walter and let them give it a chance. Rinse and repeat if more than one.

As presently constructed (which is the point of this thread) in the AL East, I think this is a last place team and a long way behind New York, Toronto and Tampa Bay, not to mention Cleveland, Houston, and Seattle. I also like the White Sox roster and Baltimore's young talent more than ours. So I want to see what the kids have far more than I care to see what James Paxton does or does not have left.
 
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Ganthem

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I hope we add more starting pitching. Full stop.

Just to address only what we already have, the only real downside to adding a guy like Kluber is if you lose the opportunity to see what young guys could give you in the rotation for the future and to see if they could be part of the next core, and I don't want that to happen.

I start the season: *Kluber, Whitlock, Bello, Pivetta and Houck.

Bull pen is: Jansen (closer) then in no particular order Barnes, Martin, Rodriguez, Schreiber, Crawford and Winckowski for bulk relief pitchers and whomever pitches the best in camp.

(*Yes, if Sale is available without damage to his shoulder like 2018, his elbow like 2019, breaking a rib like 2022, breaking a finger like later in 2022, or falling off his bike and breaking a wrist to put 2022 in the books or whatever else he gets the ball in game 1, we go to a 6 man rotation and that last guy is taken out of the bullpen. I'm hopeful that happens, I'm not really planning on it, per se, and will be pleasantly surprised when it does.)

Short of some 2021 style unexpected great start, I'd spend the entire season seeing if Whitlock, Bello and Houck can be starters for the core of the team moving forward. If one proves totally incapable of being a starting pitcher worth any salt, move that one to the bullpen and bring up your choice of Mata, Murphy or Walter and let them give it a chance. Rinse and repeat if more than one.

As presently constructed (which is the point of this thread) in the AL East, I think this is a last place team and a long way behind New York, Toronto and Tampa Bay, not to mention Cleveland, Houston, and Seattle. I also like the White Sox roster and Baltimore's young talent more than ours. So I want to see what the kids have far more than I care to see what James Paxton does or does not have left.
Do you have proof that Sale won't be healthy other then a bunch of non pitching related injuries?
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Do you have proof that Sale won't be healthy other then a bunch of non pitching related injuries?
Nope. Do you have proof he will be?

My own snarky response aside: I mentioned what I'd do both with Sale and without Sale, I don't think saying he will or won't pitch is an unfair position. I also think shoulder and elbow injuries are pitching related and in a pitcher that will be 34 years old are cause for concern and it's a justifiable idea to have a plan in place assuming he can't pitch this year (since he's averaged about 20ip each of the past 3 years and will be 34) while ALSO having a plan in place in case he's healthy and goes more than 25 starts. It's why I outlined both.

If Chris Sale pitches 33 games I want to give the young pitchers a full season of starting to see what you have. If Chris Sale pitches 0 games, I want to give the young pitchers a full season of starting to see what they have. If he pitches 26 games like FanGraphs projects, I want to give the young pitchers a full season of starting to see what they have. I apologize for not making that clear.

If you'd prefer we didn't sign Kluber or we trade Pivetta because you think Chris Sale will pitch a full season feel free to suggest that. Heck, if you think Whitlock, Houck and Bello should all be traded because we can depend on Chris Sale, James Paxton, Corey Kluber, Nick Pivetta and Kutter Crawford, suggest that too.

As I said in my post, a TEAM outcome to start that looks more like 2021 than 2020 or 2022, AND those kids looking totally overmatched is the only way I'd deviate from giving the kids full starting roles - and then it would be to bring up the next of Mata, Murphy, Walter or whomever. As the team is presently constructed and where we are today (which is the point of this thread) there is no outcome individually on Chris Sale pitching or not pitching and effectively or not effectively to start the year that would change my stance one iota on the development in the major leagues and seeing what they have relative to Whitlock, Bello, Houck and so on.
 
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Petagine in a Bottle

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I don’t see how they can add another starter; there just aren’t enough roster spots left. Sure, they could trade Pivetta but doing so to add Wacha or Cueto hardly makes sense to me. At this point I think you go in to camp with Houck and Whitlock penciled in to start and see what happens regarding health / performance. If everyone is healthy and looking good, you’ve got a great problem, and can surely move someone at that point.
 

Rovin Romine

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Opening Day rotation (barring injuries) ought to be:

Sale, Paxton, Kluber, Pivetta, Bello. Whitlock and Houck start the year in the bullpen. I agree with @LogansDad - Bello is ready. He probably can only throw about 160-170 innings max, and I don't want them wasting those innings in AAA. He's good enough for the majors. Yes there may be some bumps. Oh well.

Now, what to expect from these guys?

Sale
* Best-case scenario: He's healthy all year and gives the Sox 175 innings of an ERA in the high 2's or low 3's, with more than 10 k/9.
* Worse-case scenario: He gets hurt again and gives them about 30 innings of an ERA in the 4's.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 140 innings of an ERA in the mid 3's, which would be just dandy.

Paxton
* Best-case scenario: He's healthy all year and gives the Sox about 160 innings of an ERA in the mid 3's.
* Worst-case scenario: He gets hurt again and literally gives them nothing.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 120 innings of an ERA in the high 3's, which would also be just dandy.

Kluber
* Best-case scenario: He has one more good year in him and befuddles AL hitters to the tune of an ERA in the high 3's, giving the Sox about 175 innings.
* Worst-case scenario: He struggles as his velocity dips even more and his control suffers, and he gets absolutely lit up to the tune of a high 5's ERA.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 140 innings of mediocre results, with an ERA in the mid 4's, having some good moments but a bunch of bad ones too.

Pivetta
* Best-case scenario: He puts it all together and gives the Sox 200+ innings of low 3's ERA ball and is the backbone of the rotation.
* Worst-case scenario: He actually has to deal with some injuries and struggles, giving the Sox about 140 innings of low 5's ERA.
* What I think will happen: He is solid all year long. Not great, but not bad, and is pretty healthy. Write him down for 175 innings and an ERA in the low 4's.

Bello
* Best-case scenario: He emerges as one of the bright young pitching stars in the game and stays healthy. 165 innings at a low 3's ERA.
* Worst-case scenario: He has to start in AAA or struggles in MLB early and gets demoted. Can't stop walking people. Gives the Sox about 75 innings at an ERA around 5.
* What I think will happen: He starts the year in AAA but dominates there and by May the Sox have him up for good. He gives them about 130 innings in the high 3's and we are seeing the beginning of a tremendous career.

Now, if the worst-case scenarios happen, this team is obviously screwed. If the best-case scenario happens, they'll absolutely go to the playoffs. Neither of those will likely happen in full. I expect at least one of these guys to get their best-case scenario, and one of them to get their worst-case scenario. But if that happens, and the average is in the range of my "what I think will happen" scenarios, then the rotation should be pretty decent. Not great, not anywhere near elite, but pretty decent. Good enough to keep them in the playoff race if the offense shows up.
This scans for me.

Let's assume: Sale/Paxton/Kluber/Pivetta/Bello.

If Paxton's a no-go either now or in Spring Training, I think Whitlock steps into that slot. (Or, alternately, they can sign another innings eater. . .)

But what do we all think of the depth after Sale/Paxton/Kluber/Pivetta/Bello/Whitlock?

There's Houck, who seems fine in the pen and a great asset while he's there.

Then we have the AAA squad.

Crawford - who had a run of success at the ML level, but drastically lost effectiveness in August: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=crawfku01&t=p&year=2022
Health issues controlling, I'm inclined to give him the nod as first in this group of potential starters. I could be talked off that though.

Winckowski - He's young though (25 this year) and rather gamely hung in there for 70 innings last year. Overall results were nothing you'd want to see again though (5.89 ERA). Although he had a handful of promising starts mixed in: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=winckjo01&t=p&year=2022

Seabold - Supposedly a command and skill guy as opposed to putout-pitches, but he's been butchered in his few ML cups of coffee. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=seaboco01&t=p&year=2022
I can't quite write him off. . .but I'm more than a bit bearish on him. I suspect a good catcher and game-plan are crucial to his having success.

Mata - Had an excellent post TJ AA campaign in 2022 and jumped to start 5 games in AAA. ML fastball, and perhaps the most potentially effective of the bunch?

Murphy - Seems more and less than the sum of his pitches at times.

Walter - Had a good run through the system thusfar but hickuped in a very small AAA sample to close out last year.
 

Rovin Romine

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If you'd prefer we didn't sign Kluber or we trade Pivetta because you think Chris Sale will pitch a full season feel free to suggest that. Heck, if you think Whitlock, Houck and Bello should all be traded because we can depend on Chris Sale, James Paxton, Corey Kluber, Nick Pivetta and Kutter Crawford, suggest that too.
Let's discuss what we have and how it all most likely fits together; leave the trade speculation and personal philosophy of "how I'd run the club long term" to the other threads. There's plenty of places for that.

Obviously, health is completely fair game for assessing the rotation, but the "my personal feelings on Sale's health" thing has been done to death.

That said, if anyone has medically relevant information, or a fact-based analysis, on Sale or Paxton or Whitlock or any other pitcher, by all means let us know.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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I think your assessment of our depth seems pretty spot on, RR. I am skeptical that they can keep all these guys, though; I’d expect a trade of at least one of the Seabold, Crawford, Winckowski, Mata, Murphy, Walter group- there just aren’t enough spots on the 40 man to keep all these guys around.
 

Rovin Romine

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My rotation (assuming health) is: Sale, Bello, Pivetta, Kluber, Whitlock. Paxton starts in a long relief/piggyback role with one or more of Sale, Kluber and Whitlock to try to keep the mileage down. I think Houck is way more valuable out of the pen (the numbers above back that up), but will likely be the first guy pressed into starting duty when the inevitable injury occurs. I don't "like" this, as shuffling him back and forth between roles isn't ideal, but I think with the current construction of the staff it is the way I would go.
Agreed on Bello.

I think that Sale/Bello/Pivetta/Kluber/Whitlock makes sense in terms of optimal starters with an eye toward their historical roles and basic human stuff.

Sale's best potential value is starting, so he's a lock.
Pivetta is simply a starter, and so another lock.
Bello has shown the stretch of excellence needed - why would you not start him?
Kluber was most likely signed "as a starter" and you don't want to repurpose a newly acquired FA to the bullpen without giving him a chance to start.

It makes Paxton something of an odd duck though. I wish we knew more about his situation. But assuming he's healthy, coming off of injury, I think he displaces Whitlock in the sense he's a veteran starter and would possibly benefit health-wise from regular use rather than the typical bullpen arm. (That said, if he has a mediocre spring training he could be in Whitlock's 2021 role for a bit.)

In a perfect health scenario, Whitlock appears to be the odd man out here. Although odds are he'd probably be more effective in a starting role than Kluber.

***

Overall, I think you go into ST with more than 5 starters penciled in. So Whitlock's in the mix and would probably only be pushed out if:
a) everyone has perfect health, and
b) everyone is on schedule, and
c) everyone pitches well.

The classic "good problem to have."
 

Rovin Romine

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I think your assessment of our depth seems pretty spot on, RR. I am skeptical that they can keep all these guys, though; I’d expect a trade of at least one of the Seabold, Crawford, Winckowski, Mata, Murphy, Walter group- there just aren’t enough spots on the 40 man to keep all these guys around.
I think Turner's the only guy we still have to add? And we still have Kelly, Ort, German on the roster - plus Darwinzon and Brasier.

I certainly wouldn't rule a trade of one of the AAA crew out, but until something happens, we may as well consider what we have.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I think Turner's the only guy we still have to add? And we still have Kelly, Ort, German on the roster - plus Darwinzon and Brasier.

I certainly wouldn't rule a trade of one of the AAA crew out, but until something happens, we may as well consider what we have.
Kluber hasn't officially been added either.

The only concern I have with the number of AAA starters on the 40-man is they do want some relievers that they can call up. With just 14 spots for optionable depth, filling six of them with starting pitchers might be a bit inefficient. I guess any of them could come up to relieve if needed, but I think they'd rather have more than a couple guys that they can rotate through the bullpen as needed.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Let's discuss what we have and how it all most likely fits together; leave the trade speculation and personal philosophy of "how I'd run the club long term" to the other threads. There's plenty of places for that.

Obviously, health is completely fair game for assessing the rotation, but the "my personal feelings on Sale's health" thing has been done to death.

That said, if anyone has medically relevant information, or a fact-based analysis, on Sale or Paxton or Whitlock or any other pitcher, by all means let us know.
Fair. Noted and will do.

Relative to what we expect - based at least on fact-based analysis - one thing that I like to do is try and gain a gauge of similar pitchers (as best I can) because I like to at least attempt to remove pre-conceived notions about a player as much as possible.

As such, I think a good gauge are the similar pitchers from Baseball Savant and their statcast data to try and build a baseline of expectations. Granted they're not perfect analogies, but if anyone knows how to better find matches for any pitcher, I'd be happy to learn - or if there are more widely accepted similarity scores to use, again, I'm happy to learn. More data points are better.

For each pitcher, I've used their Baseball Savant comparisons for: 1) similar pitchers by velocity and movement; 2) similar pitchers by batted ball data profiles. I then looked up the fWAR those pitchers put up in each respective season. I omitted relief pitchers across the board (as in there is no reason to compare Chris Sale to Brett Cecil or whomever Edubray Ramos is). For this exercise I included 2020 just to get more data points, even though I personally discount that entire 60 game tournament.

Again, if Baseball Savant is not a respected site to cite, please let me know what would be better to get comparisons.

If looking at velocity, movement and batted ball data are not considered relevant for the board, again, let me know.

If the site is credible, but their similarity scores for comparable starters is not credible somehow, again, please let me know.

Some of the similarity scores surprised the heck out of me (seeing Justin Verlander pop up with Nick Pivetta - TWICE), but I just accepted each data point at face value based on the assumption that the folks at Baseball Savant are smarter than I am.

The baselines (average) for the rotation from those data points came out as follows. Again, averages based on similarity scores from Baseball Savant.

1) PIvetta - 3.52 fWAR
2) Whitlock - 3.31 fWAR
3) Kluber - 2.65 fWAR
4) Bello - 2.3 fWAR
5) Sale - 2.15 fWAR
6) Paxton - 1.56 fWAR
7) Houck - 1.37 fWAR


For Sale: 2.15 fWAR

2021 Matz 2.8
2019 Matz 1.6
2016 Matz 2.5
2021 Heaney 1.1
2019 Heaney 1.3
2016 Maeda 2.9
2016 Lackey 2.9


For Kluber: 2.65 fWAR

2018 Carlos Martinez 2.1
2021 Kohl Stewart - 0.0
2015 Tyson Ross 4.0
2018 Marcus Stroman 1.4
2018 HJ Ryu 1.9
2016 Kenta Maeda 2.9
2015 David Price 6.7
2018 Zack Grienke 2.7
2018 Ross Stripling 2.2

For Whitlock: 3.31 fWAR

2022 Adrian Houser 1.0
2022 Kevin Gausman 5.7
2022 Brady Singer 2.9
2022 Max Scherzer 4.4
2022 Aaron Civale 1.3
2022 Lance Lynn 1.9
2022 Aaron Nola 6.3
2022 George Kirby 3.0

For Houck: 1.37 fWAR

2022 Drey Jameson .5
2022 Jon Gray 1.8
2020 Carlos Martinez -.2
2020 Joe Musgrove 1.0
2022 Brayan Bello 1.3
2022 Martin Perez 3.8
2021 H Ynoa 1.4

For Bello: 2.3 fWAR
2022 Luis Castillo 3.7
2022 Drey Jameson .5
2022 Jose Urena .8
2022 Logan Webb 4.2

For Paxton: 1.56 fWAR

2020 Keegan Aiken .8
2020 Andrew Heaney 1.5
2019 Brendan McKay .8
2019 Blake Snell 2.7
2020 David Peterson .5
2016 Johnny Cueto 4.9
2019 Sean Maenea .8
2015 Felix Doubront .5

For Pivetta: 3.52 fWAR

2018 Trevor Bauer 5.8
2021 Drew Rasmussen 1.4
2018 Justin Verlander 6.6
2019 Mitch Keller 1.3
2019 Justin Verlander 6.4
2017 Drew Pomeranz 3.0
2021 Luis Garcia 3.1
2017 Carlos Rodon .6


To be clear, I don't even believe some of those, but I was trying to use simply facts and what has happened to predict what might happen and remove my biases. Personally though, I'd slot it as follows, because I think velocity, movement and batted ball data similarity ARE good data points and can be predictive.

I also really liked the idea @Rovin Romine used opening the thread about a 6 man rotation. That is what I'd do too, and I hope we will.

1) Whitlock 3.31 fWAR average - I'd actually take right about this. I think he's really good.

2) Kluber 2.65 fWAR average - I expect about this. I'd put someone with a track record next.

3) Bello 2.3 fWAR average - Very high on him, and I don't want him taken out of the rotation in any case.

4) Pivetta 3.52 fWAR average - Certainly taking the under. No way I think he belongs in a conversation with Justin Verlander or even Luis Garcia, but I think he's the most "projectable" pitcher we have, and that's valuable.

5) Sale 2.15 fWAR - His upside is of course higher than this. I think the downside risk is real. He'd certainly get the ball on opening day. No question. I'm taking the under / I understand why people would take the over.

6) Houck 1.37 fWAR - I'd take the over. He most easily slides to the 'pen, but I really would prefer to see what he can do in a full season as a starter, regardless of the stats he's put up in 12g that he's pitched to the order a 3rd time.

7) Paxton 1.56 fWAR - I'd take the under. I assume Bloom and Boras both a) have more health information than we do; b) both have better projections than we do and c) are both much smarter than I am. If he were totally healthy, I think Bloom picks up the option (he didn't). If Boras thought he were totally healthy, he'd tell him to decline the option (he didn't). Those are circumstantial evidence points, no question. But I don't think either is a huge leap to make.
 
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Rovin Romine

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Kluber hasn't officially been added either.

The only concern I have with the number of AAA starters on the 40-man is they do want some relievers that they can call up. With just 14 spots for optionable depth, filling six of them with starting pitchers might be a bit inefficient. I guess any of them could come up to relieve if needed, but I think they'd rather have more than a couple guys that they can rotate through the bullpen as needed.
We should probably do another thread on the bullpen in terms of seeing what we have.

I'd be interested to learn what the collective wisdom holds on Darwinzon v. Ort v. Kelly v. using someone like Mata or Seabold if there's an opening in the ML staff.
 

JM3

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I also really liked the idea @Rovin Romine used opening the thread about a 6 man rotation. That is what I'd do too, and I hope we will.
I love Baseball Savant & find it very useful, but I think projecting a pitcher's WAR for the next season based on those similarity stores is...speculative.

I think a 6-man rotation in today's MLB would be highly problematic due to the sheer lack of innings each start is. It puts the bullpen an additional man down & just gives the pitchers more rest after their likely short start which does not require additional rest.

I'm cool with having 7 "starters", but each competent pitcher should be pitching at least every 5 days (or 6 if day off or whatever). I think the proper adjustment to the modern game if we're concerned about usage is less innings per start, not less starts. The evidence related to diminishing returns on each trip through the lineup for most pitchers sort of confirms this.
 

Yo La Tengo

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I love Baseball Savant & find it very useful, but I think projecting a pitcher's WAR for the next season based on those similarity stores is...speculative.

I think a 6-man rotation in today's MLB would be highly problematic due to the sheer lack of innings each start is. It puts the bullpen an additional man down & just gives the pitchers more rest after their likely short start which does not require additional rest.

I'm cool with having 7 "starters", but each competent pitcher should be pitching at least every 5 days (or 6 if day off or whatever). I think the proper adjustment to the modern game if we're concerned about usage is less innings per start, not less starts. The evidence related to diminishing returns on each trip through the lineup for most pitchers sort of confirms this.
Might be too weird, but, I'd like to see Whitlock and Houck share a spot in the rotation by alternating starts, then pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen the next time through the rotation. So, combined, they would pitch ~ 7 innings/3+ times through the lineup every 5 games.
 

JM3

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I was about to post this in the SS thread then realized that would be dumb. Not sure if this belongs in the bullpen thread, the starter thread, or what does the '23 look like thread, but I decided on this one (partially because it accidentally pivots off Yo La Tengo's idea):

Paxton actually has reverse splits, so meh on that (that being my thought that Houck could pitch 2 innings each in Sale/Paxton starts. But career-wise, Sale & Houck have very similar splits (wOBA, L/R):

Sale .236/.284
Houck .299/.242
Paxton .317/.286

So it would be really fun to piggyback Sale & Houck, & you could really go either direction in terms of the starter depending on which way the other team is more heavy at the top of their order. In an ideal world, Sale would pitch 6 & Houck would pitch 3 & you'd rest the bullpen that day.

So the rotation would be like:

Sale/Houck
Bello
Whitlock
Paxton or Pivetta (based on Paxton health/Pivetta still being on the team)
Kluber

With Houck also available for an inning or 2 in the Paxton/Pivetta game, or Whitlock game if need be. Crawford in long relief makes sense to me - he could go 3+ if any of the 2-5 have a rough outing, or allow for a lighter workload day for any of them on a staple day.

& then you run your Jansen/Martin/Schreiber/Barnes/Joely +1 in short relief.

Although, I think I would like Kluber even more as a twice a rotation opener if he was up for it based on the splits I posted earlier, so that would be like...

Sale/Houck
Kluber/Pivetta
Bello
Whitlock/Houck
Kluber/Paxton

With Jansen/Martin/Schreiber/Barnes/Joely/+1 & Crawford in the minors.

Kluber would obviously be down because all his incentives are based on # of starts.
 
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JM3

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Average expected outting on that last plan:

Sale (5)/Houck (2)/bullpen (2)
Kluber (2)/Pivetta (4)/bullpen (3)
Bello (6!)/bullpen (3)
Whitlock (5)/Houck (2)/bullpen (2)
Kluber (2)/Paxton (4)/bullpen (3)

So if everyone is magically healthy all season & the top 2 get 33 games & the last 3 get 32, that's:

Bello 192 IP
Sale 165 IP
Whitlock 160 IP
Pivetta 132 IP
Houck 130 IP
Kluber 130 IP
Paxton 128 IP

With 418 bullpen innings (plus extra innings!). Divided 6 ways that's 69 2/3 innings each. That's a bit high, even with good health, but 60 innings each seems legit, which would leave 58 innings for the shuttle guys (Mills/Kelly/Taylor/Ort/German/Brasier/etc.).

If/when any of those guys get injured, you just sub in Crawford/Winckowski/Mata/Walter/Seabold/etc. into one of the 7 starter roles, or any of that previous list into any of the 6 bullpen roles.
 

jon abbey

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When there’s no off day between 4/5/1, you have Houck pitching two innings on one day rest after two innings, no one does that.
 

jon abbey

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Also there is no chance in hell Kluber could or would do that, he’d be broken in a month.
 

jon abbey

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And you have just a six man bullpen left to cover almost 3 innings per game (plus extra innings)? I respect that you put time in to figure this out but it’s not a possible plan, sorry.
 

GB5

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Regarding Paxton: is this still be treated as an arm injury or is it an assumption of an arm injury because nobody got to see how his arm looked during his rehab stint.

He was cleared by the RS doctors to begin pitching in rehab games. Then he hurt his lat muscle. Hopefully he has continued to strengthen the arm while recovering from the lat injury and is clear as far as the arm goes for spring training.
 

JM3

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When there’s no off day between 4/5/1, you have Houck pitching two innings on one day rest after two innings, no one does that.
Is pitching 2 innings, taking a day off, & then pitching 2 innings significantly harder than pitching 7 innings in 1 day?

Also there is no chance in hell Kluber could or would do that, he’d be broken in a month.
Yeahhh... still not sure how 2 innings, day off, 2 innings, 2 days off is an impossible ask, but I'm willing to look at any science on it. It's significantly less innings than he pitched last season. & it's 100% the primary flaw in the plan if that causes significant arm risk.

Would you feel more comfortable if they pitched 3 innings, took 2 days off, then pitched 1 inning on the day that would be their throwing day? If they were full starters who actually pitched a lot of pitches on their full day?

And you have just a six man bullpen left to cover almost 3 innings per game (plus extra innings)? I respect that you put time in to figure this out but it’s not a possible plan, sorry.
The relievers are only expected to pitch 60 innings each. The minor league shuttle will be necessary (otherwise it would be 70), but I think it's logistically sound, & the actual needs might be less. If I wasn't using whole #s I would probably have Paxton/Pivetta at like 4.4 each, Sale at 5.2 each & Bello at like 5.7, which would reduce the reliever innings also.

So let's tie in decimals & switch this from a 2/2 to a 3/1 (which could become a 3/2 or 4/1 with off days).

Sale (5.2)/Houck (3)/bullpen (0.8)
Kluber (3)/Pivetta (4.4)/bullpen (1.6)
Bello (5.7)/bullpen (3.3)
Whitlock (5)/Houck (1)/bullpen (3)
Kluber (1)/Paxton (4.4)/bullpen (3.6)

That would mean:

Bello 182 (153 last season)

Sale 172 (150 projection - I would expect him to miss at least 5 starts & be around 145, but the Crawfords of the world would fill the rest)

Whitlock 160 IP (135 projection - can he do 160? Idk, time to find out)

Pivetta 145 IP (179.2 last season - could pitch more if he's actually decent this year)

Paxton 141 IP (135 projection - seems awfully optimistic, but this is another spot one could see 50 innings or so from the depth guys. Mata might be ready for the 4 inning type role)

Houck 130 IP (119 IP in 2018 in A+ seems to be his max so far, but I think he should be able to do 130?)

Kluber 130 IP (164 innings last year)

Bullpen 398 IP - 5 good relievers 60 innings each, shuttle guys 98 IP between the 7 of them or whatever.

So...

Jansen 60 (64 last year, projected 63 this year)

Martin 60 (56 last year, projected 60 this year)

Schreiber 60 (65 last year, projected 68 this year)

Barnes 60 (39.2 last year, projected 66 this year)

Joely 60 (50.1 last year, projected 62 this year.

So none of those seem particularly aggressive. If they all hit their Fangraphs projections, that's 19 less innings for the shuttle squad.

If we're factoring in extra innings games, we also have to factor in games where the Red Sox don't have to pitch 9 innings because of rain or losing before the bottom of the 9th. The Red Sox pitched 8.83 innings per game last season. The A's led the league with 9.10. Nats were last with 8.71.

So using 9 innings per game seems a bit overly cautious, but that's ok.
 

jon abbey

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Is pitching 2 innings, taking a day off, & then pitching 2 innings significantly harder than pitching 7 innings in 1 day?
I mean, there's a reason basically no pitcher in baseball is used this way, and it's not that no one thought of it before you (not trying to be obnoxious here). TB tried to be revolutionary along these lines and while they had some success, they also have had a massive amount of pitcher injuries the last few seasons. It's worth noting that TB themselves are now back to a conventional five man rotation (McClanahan, Glasnow, Rasmussen, Springs, Eflin), as it's very very difficult to make almost any other approach work successfully over any kind of extended period.
 

JM3

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I mean, there's a reason basically no pitcher in baseball is used this way, and it's not that no one thought of it before you (not trying to be obnoxious here). TB tried to be revolutionary along these lines and while they had some success, they also have had a massive amount of pitcher injuries the last few seasons. It's worth noting that TB themselves are now back to a conventional five man rotation (McClanahan, Glasnow, Rasmussen, Springs, Eflin), as it's very very difficult to make almost any other approach work successfully over any kind of extended period.
Not sure how conventional that's going to end up - 3 of those 5 aren't really guys who have been significant innings guys.

The biggest impediments to optimal pitcher use are pitcher caps, minor league options & the 40 man roster.

The game has to evolve somehow to make it all fit together. Not saying I've solved it, or the Red Sox have the roster to make it work, but there are more shoes that are going to drop.
 

jon abbey

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The biggest impediments to optimal pitcher use are pitcher caps, minor league options & the 40 man roster.
Really the biggest one is arm rest, if guys don't rest enough between appearances, they tend to break.

@VORP Speed is the local expert on this as he's been closely observing TB's attempts in this direction in recent years, maybe he can chime in.
 

JM3

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Really the biggest one is arm rest, if guys don't rest enough between appearances, they tend to break.

@VORP Speed is the local expert on this as he's been closely observing TB's attempts in this direction in recent years, maybe he can chime in.
My point is if rosters were more flexible, the players could rest their arms more, while still optimizing their effectiveness by pitching less per game.
 

jon abbey

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My point is if rosters were more flexible, the players could rest their arms more, while still optimizing their effectiveness by pitching less per game.
But that's exactly what TB has tried, shuffling guys up and down to AAA (typically almost all of their pitchers have options), and it has ended in many injuries.

One thing we do know from experience: even the very best SPs in the game almost all struggle on 3 days rest. Nestor Cortes did it in game 5 of the ALDS this year in a do-or-die emergency game and did a great job at it (admittedly against a weak CLE lineup), and then got hurt his next start early in the game. This also happened to rubber-armed David Wells after the apocalyptic 2003 ALCS, Torre brought him back on 3 days rest for game 1 of the WS and he was fine, but then he had to leave his next start early on because he was hurt. SPs almost all need 4 days rest between starts whether they throw 80 pitches or 110.
 

JM3

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But that's exactly what TB has tried, shuffling guys up and down to AAA (typically almost all of their pitchers have options), and it has ended in many injuries.

One thing we do know from experience: even the very best SPs in the game almost all struggle on 3 days rest. Nestor Cortes did it in game 5 of the ALDS this year in a do-or-die emergency game and did a great job at it (admittedly against a weak CLE lineup), and then got hurt his next start early in the game. This also happened to rubber-armed David Wells after the apocalyptic 2003 ALCS, Torre brought him back on 3 days rest for game 1 of the WS and he was fine, but then he had to leave his next start early on because he was hurt. SPs almost all need 4 days rest between starts whether they throw 80 pitches or 110.
Right - they've tried to shuffle within the confines of the rules. & I think they treat most of their players like acceptable risks & kind of disposable to some extent because they can use the DL as the facilitator for the shuffle.

But if, let's say, those limits on rosters weren't in place & teams could have unlimited players on their roster & there were no 40-man requirements. The optimal player usage that combines low ERA & health is probably something like 10 3-4 inning starters & 10 relievers.
 

jon abbey

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The optimal player usage that combines low ERA & health is probably something like 10 3-4 inning starters & 10 relievers.
It's an interesting topic and probably should be its own thread, I think the way the Dodgers have done it in recent years maybe makes more sense in that guys have basically traditional roles and then are put on the phantom IL to rest completely while others step into their traditional roles.

The approach you're suggesting makes a lot more (theoretical) sense if you seem to have an abundance of solid pitchers but no real ace SP (like BOS seems to currently), but if you have Verlander/Scherzer or Cole/Rodon or Nola/Wheeler at the top of your rotation, you want them starting every five days as much as possible.
 

JM3

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It's an interesting topic and probably should be its own thread, I think the way the Dodgers have done it in recent years maybe makes more sense in that guys have basically traditional roles and then are put on the phantom IL to rest completely while others step into their traditional roles.

The approach you're suggesting makes a lot more (theoretical) sense if you seem to have an abundance of solid pitchers but no real ace SP (like BOS seems to currently), but if you have Verlander/Scherzer or Cole/Rodon or Nola/Wheeler at the top of your rotation, you want them starting every five days as much as possible.
The framework still make sense with those rare starters because everyone is still pitching every 5 days in this scenario - it's just you don't need to limit them to 3 or 4 innings so they don't need a tether pitcher who can also pitch 3 or 4 innings.

With 1 elite pitcher, that optimal 20-man staff moves to 9 starters & 11 relievers, 8 & 12 with 2, etc.

But yeah, sorry for the derail. & you're right - I was neglecting actual health in return for trying to optimize limited roster sizes.
 

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All of this is a nice theoretical exercise but the real world has a tendency to throw a wrench into such things. I don't see any way Cora either enters or leaves spring training with a plan even somewhat close to this.
 

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Opening Day rotation (barring injuries) ought to be:

Sale, Paxton, Kluber, Pivetta, Bello. Whitlock and Houck start the year in the bullpen. I agree with @LogansDad - Bello is ready. He probably can only throw about 160-170 innings max, and I don't want them wasting those innings in AAA. He's good enough for the majors. Yes there may be some bumps. Oh well.

Now, what to expect from these guys?

Sale
* Best-case scenario: He's healthy all year and gives the Sox 175 innings of an ERA in the high 2's or low 3's, with more than 10 k/9.
* Worse-case scenario: He gets hurt again and gives them about 30 innings of an ERA in the 4's.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 140 innings of an ERA in the mid 3's, which would be just dandy.

Paxton
* Best-case scenario: He's healthy all year and gives the Sox about 160 innings of an ERA in the mid 3's.
* Worst-case scenario: He gets hurt again and literally gives them nothing.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 120 innings of an ERA in the high 3's, which would also be just dandy.

Kluber
* Best-case scenario: He has one more good year in him and befuddles AL hitters to the tune of an ERA in the high 3's, giving the Sox about 175 innings.
* Worst-case scenario: He struggles as his velocity dips even more and his control suffers, and he gets absolutely lit up to the tune of a high 5's ERA.
* What I think will happen: He gives the Sox about 140 innings of mediocre results, with an ERA in the mid 4's, having some good moments but a bunch of bad ones too.

Pivetta
* Best-case scenario: He puts it all together and gives the Sox 200+ innings of low 3's ERA ball and is the backbone of the rotation.
* Worst-case scenario: He actually has to deal with some injuries and struggles, giving the Sox about 140 innings of low 5's ERA.
* What I think will happen: He is solid all year long. Not great, but not bad, and is pretty healthy. Write him down for 175 innings and an ERA in the low 4's.

Bello
* Best-case scenario: He emerges as one of the bright young pitching stars in the game and stays healthy. 165 innings at a low 3's ERA.
* Worst-case scenario: He has to start in AAA or struggles in MLB early and gets demoted. Can't stop walking people. Gives the Sox about 75 innings at an ERA around 5.
* What I think will happen: He starts the year in AAA but dominates there and by May the Sox have him up for good. He gives them about 130 innings in the high 3's and we are seeing the beginning of a tremendous career.

Now, if the worst-case scenarios happen, this team is obviously screwed. If the best-case scenario happens, they'll absolutely go to the playoffs. Neither of those will likely happen in full. I expect at least one of these guys to get their best-case scenario, and one of them to get their worst-case scenario. But if that happens, and the average is in the range of my "what I think will happen" scenarios, then the rotation should be pretty decent. Not great, not anywhere near elite, but pretty decent. Good enough to keep them in the playoff race if the offense shows up.
I think this is incredibly spot on and your "What I think will happen" is a solid indicator that this rotation is better than most think. I'm higher on Houck than some and could see him contributing in the Paxton role at approximately the same as you've noted. Having Houck and Whitlock ready to step in for injured starters from this list of 5 sets us up nicely. Being able to keep them in the pen makes our pen far superior to last year and just about as good as anyone else.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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All of this is a nice theoretical exercise but the real world has a tendency to throw a wrench into such things. I don't see any way Cora either enters or leaves spring training with a plan even somewhat close to this.
I’m in agreement. It’s a theoretical discussion only. Pitching management has to be super flexible and can’t deny that pitchers can occasionally get locked in and those “x-time through a lineup” weaknesses have to be taken with a grain of salt (please…. Don’t ignore though!!!). If PitccherX is in the zone, let him go but manage it- be ready to get the hook out.
An inversely occasionally pitchers just don’t have a feel and need to be yanked early. Immediately a “system” breaks down on this.
I like having a framework…. Not a system.
And despite some problems, the existing 5-man is very good.
 

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The relievers are only expected to pitch 60 innings each. The minor league shuttle will be necessary (otherwise it would be 70), but I think it's logistically sound, & the actual needs might be less. If I wasn't using whole #s I would probably have Paxton/Pivetta at like 4.4 each, Sale at 5.2 each & Bello at like 5.7, which would reduce the reliever innings also.
While there are pitchers with options available (Whitlock 3, Schreiber 3, Houck 2 and Crawford 2) they are all guys who figure to play a fairly prominent role on the team. I'm not sure that any of these guys riding the shuttle serves the team better than keeping them in whatever role the team assigns them to. Crawford might be the exception here depending on what his role actually shakes out to be, but the other three seem to have a firm spot on the roster and IMO aren't going to be subjected to the mandatory minimum 15 days in the minors.
 

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While there are pitchers with options available (Whitlock 3, Schreiber 3, Houck 2 and Crawford 2) they are all guys who figure to play a fairly prominent role on the team. I'm not sure that any of these guys riding the shuttle serves the team better than keeping them in whatever role the team assigns them to. Crawford might be the exception here depending on what his role actually shakes out to be, but the other three seem to have a firm spot on the roster and IMO aren't going to be subjected to the mandatory minimum 15 days in the minors.
I would expect the minor league shuttle to be necessary as usual to replace a pitcher who gets injured so would involve those relievers beginning the year in the minors and being brought up for whatever period of time they're needed to replace whoever goes on the IL, then sent back down when the major leaguer returns.
 

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Dec 7, 2022
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I love Baseball Savant & find it very useful, but I think projecting a pitcher's WAR for the next season based on those similarity stores is...speculative.

I think a 6-man rotation in today's MLB would be highly problematic due to the sheer lack of innings each start is. It puts the bullpen an additional man down & just gives the pitchers more rest after their likely short start which does not require additional rest.
I'd say it's more that I believe recent past performance IS indicative of future performance. One can argue that in and of itself is speculative, I suppose. But when you're talking about individuals that are such a specialized skill set that the most minute tweak can have huge implications, I think assuming anything with mean reversion or looking for trends and applying them to an individual - which I believe most projections do - is also lets say heavily conjectured. You're trying to surmise why something happened, right?



Discussion of legal and mathematical jargon and theory aside, generally speaking, when I'm deciding on taking the over / under, I look to Marcel's projections on BB-Ref and a reason I really like them are the relative simplicity of over-weighting the last 3 years of data (what actually happened) vs 4 years and putting more emphasis on further analysis and trends, especially for veteran players. I understand that even the folks at BB-Ref say they've lost faith in those projections and a) that's fine and b) it's what someone SHOULD say if they want to show they have a better way and want to get paid for it. Anyone with a fair amount of time and basic understanding of percentages could go a 3 - 2 - 1 weight and figure out a projection, so if you want to be relevant for someone to subscribe to your belief, you need to provide more, right?

Then I have my own personal speculation (which I totally admit) and tends to be a) the improvement young players can make from their first seasons of exposure to the big leagues with the more experience they get; b) a player's prime is roughly 26-32, though I think this is still pretty widely accepted, no?, and; c) a player declines from about 33 - the end of their career.

I also understand there are specific things about a player that could throw off projections (such as moving from the 'pen to the rotation, change in swing mechanics, learning a new pitch, etc, etc).

Also, there are always exceptions to these rules (Jackie Bradley Jr got WORSE in his prime, Max Scherzer is probably a robot, David Ortiz was imbued with special powers from whatever deity one choose to believe in - or believes Ortiz himself was the deity, etc) and that a 3 year look back basically must get thrown out the window when you're talking about young players and there really aren't 3 seasons of data to point toward.

FWIW, here are those Marcel projections from each players BB-Ref pages and how I think they'll end up in terms of value (I THINK the Red Sox will line them up Sale, Kluber, Whitlock, Pivetta, Bello with Houck in the 'pen):

Whitlock - 77ip; 3.27ERA; 1.117WHIP (again, he's young and moving to the rotation; the 3.31 fWAR baseline is about what I'd expect for a full season in the rotation, I think he's very good.

Bello - 83ip; 4.20ERA; 1.422WHIP (generally I tend to be more bullish on young players than old players, this is certainly true of Bello specifically. He had the 2.3 fWAR baseline and I'm taking the over).

Kluber - 150ip; 4.20ERA; 1.273WHIP (again, seems about right and that looks like something around a 2.65 fWAR)

Pivetta - 165ip; 4.36ERA; 1.327WHIP (this is about what I expect from him and makes me take the "under" from the 3.52 mean fWAR I posted above as the baseline).

Houck - 73ip; 3.45ERA; 1.178WHIP (my guess - and my fear - is he's ticketed to the bullpen. Yes, he's gotten shelled his 3rd time through the order, but that is based on a career sample size of 30 PA against, I'd like to get a larger sample than that before saying "he can't do it and never will be able to."

Sale - 67ip; 3.76ERA; 1.284WHIP (this is closer to what I expect from Sale than the Steamer / ZiPS numbers, and thus taking the under on the 2.15 fWAR)



Paxton - 60ip; 4.20ERA; 1.300WHIP (closer to what I expect from Paxton).



The 6 man rotation is because a) I accept that Sale will be in the rotation; b) as of today Pivetta is on the team - I hope he remains on the team because I think we need his (and Kluber's) reliability and c) I don't want the opportunity cost associated with not truly seeing if those young pitchers can be part of the core in 2025 and beyond, so I'm putting them all in there - but admit the more likely thing for the Red Sox to do is send one to the bullpen, which I personally disagree with.


I truly do accept and understand people whom hate the Marcel projections. I'm only making the argument that I'm basing my analysis not on some random idea of "this guy sucks" / "this guy is awesome" but based on a) statcast data; b similarity scores; c) what actually happened in those "similar" seasons; and d) a projection system that despite it's limitations is still published on Baseball-Reference and heavily weights actual factual data of what did transpire the past 3 seasons.
 
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JM3

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Dec 14, 2019
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While there are pitchers with options available (Whitlock 3, Schreiber 3, Houck 2 and Crawford 2) they are all guys who figure to play a fairly prominent role on the team. I'm not sure that any of these guys riding the shuttle serves the team better than keeping them in whatever role the team assigns them to. Crawford might be the exception here depending on what his role actually shakes out to be, but the other three seem to have a firm spot on the roster and IMO aren't going to be subjected to the mandatory minimum 15 days in the minors.
I was referring to the 13th guy in that scenario as the shuttle role - combined of course with proper DL management.

Crawford was also in the minors in that scenario. Also, players only use one option per season, so the # of options those guys have isn't really that important.

Every player with an option can be optioned up to 5 times in a season without risk.

https://www.mlb.com/glossary/transactions/minor-league-options

But yeah, I would not send our best pitchers to the minors - only the DL if necessary.
 

JM3

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Too lazy to quote & trim that post on my phone Papi, but correct me if I'm wrong - your similarity calcs didn't actually include the pitcher's own past results did it?

& the 6 man rotation is another thing that's fine theoretically if you have an unlimited size bullpen.