The team at MLB Daily Dish makes the argument that the labels of starting pitcher and relief pitcher should be eliminated.
Starters suffer the third time through the order, but is there enough pitching to go around to make pulling them earlier a viable strategy? As much as we want to believe that baseball is timeless and unchanging, the truth is that it's constantly evolving. New strategies get tested and adopted. If they prove successful, they spread like wildfire, with clubs copying one another so as not to be left behind in the arms race. If MLB's Mike Petriello (an incredibly smart guy worth listening to) is right, however, we're on the verge of one of the most striking evolutions in the history of the sport.
We've written about this before.  There is no logical reason for teams to run out starting pitchers three times through a batting order.  If a team is simply trying to get outs, a four man rotation would make a lot of sense.  There are, however, a couple of other factors at play.

Wins

A starting pitcher cannot qualify for a win unless he pitches five innings.  Wins are still a factor in contract negotiations, and season awards. Although a diminishing one.  As long as that is the case, teams will be forced to stretch out starting pitchers if they want free agent starters to sign with them.

Fan Experience

There is still something about knowing which starting pitcher is throwing on a given day.  The first thing you say when going to a game is "who's on the bump tonight?"  This is especially the case in the playoffs.  A four man rotation wouldn't eliminate this completely, but it would diminish it's value.  This is something for Major League baseball to think about should teams start trending this direction. Again, there is no doubt switching to this kind of pitching staff makes sense for major league clubs, but I'm not sure it's good for the game.    

 

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This is a curated post. Read the original at MLB Daily Dish - All Posts

 

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