Advertisement:

Cubs finalist for Tyson Ross; have 6 man rotation in mind

Cubs finalist for Tyson Ross; have 6 man rotation in mind
Tyson Ross

Joel Sherman of the NY Post writes that the Cubs are among 4 finalists for the services of former all-star starter Tyson Ross.  The main pursuers appear to be the Cubs and the Texas Rangers.

What's especially interesting is that the Cubs intend to use Ross or any other starting pitcher they may sign as part of an occasional 6 man rotation.

The reason stated by Sherman is that the Cubs want to rest a rotation that saw a lot of innings as the the Cubs played into November during their World Series title run.  Another reason may simply be that it will provide them with instant depth.  If a pitcher should get hurt, the Cubs would have a ready-made 5th man rotation, rather than having to recall an unproven minor league pitcher in the heat of a pennant race.  They could also call up Jake Buchanan, Rob Zastryzny, or another AAA starter to keep the 6 man rotation going.

Six-man rotations have not been popular for the simple reason that your 6th starter generally gives you a lesser chance to win than any of your top 5 starters.  Assuming all 6 starters stay healthy and the rotation is used all year. that amounts to 27 starts per pitcher.  Each pitcher would average 32 starts in the same scenario with a 5 man rotation.  Essentially that means 5 fewer starts for your top arms such as Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jake Arrieta.

The Cubs, however, are eyeing the big picture.  They believe their team is talented enough to win the NL Central even with fewer starts from their top 3.  And after winning the division by 17 games last season, it's hard to argue with them.

It would also give the Cubs some flexibility to move a pitcher such as Montgomery into the bullpen for a stretch if the bullpen needs help.

It's an interesting strategy and the Cubs or Joe Maddon have never been shy about using their roster creatively to maximize their flexibility and versatility.  We have certainly seen that happen with their position players, perhaps they can extend that to their pitching staff as well.

As for Ross, both the Cubs and Rangers have spoken to him recently and the Rangers don't seem to want to go beyond a year.  That may not necessarily be a bad thing for Ross, as he could rebuild his value and enter the free agent market as a healthy, talented 30 year old.  The Cubs, meanwhile, are said to be looking for more cost control and may be willing to go the extra year, perhaps in the form of an option.

If not Ross, it seems the Cubs may want to lengthen their staff anyway and Sherman mentions a familiar name in Travis Wood, though Wood hasn't really been an effective starter since 2013.  Jason Hammel is still available as the market has been disappointing for him.  It seems teams are unwilling to go for more than a year with the big RHP.  It has caused some to speculate that he may return to the rotation after the Cubs declined his option for 2017.  Sherman said the Cubs may also want to look at Rule 5 Caleb Smith to that 6th starter mix.  MLBTradeRumors also adds Yusmeiro Petit, Scott Feldman, Vance Worley, Dillon Gee, and Jorge De La Rosa to the list of options.

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Comments

Leave a comment
  • John, I'm all in for Ross, but if it doesn't happen what is the back up plan? What do you think about trading for Alex Cobb? I think a trade with Tampa Bay for Cobb and sending OF Mark Zagunis and RHP Bailey Clark to them would be fair for both sides. Cobb and Ross are in the same boat injury wise but also age and comparison wise too. What are your thoughts???

  • In reply to Jer Bear:

    Not John obviously but with Cobb hitting free agency in a year I wouldn't trade anything of significant value for him. I'd rather just spend the money on Ross if they can come to an agreement.

  • In reply to Jer Bear:

    Not trading Bailey Clark yet ... flashes well and could be a steal with refinement

  • fb_avatar

    When I first heard about this 6-man rotation idea, it made me wonder if the Cubs might let their starts go deeper into games. Would the 100 pitch limit per game be more of an after thought? That extra day of rest could really benefit some guys. It may start to look more like the pitchers in Japan where their starters go just once a week.

    Of course this whole thing changes with an injury or two.

    Thoughts?

  • I am a big fan of having a swing guy either for piggyback scenarios or just to go to the full 6 man in the heat of Summer and the last 3 week of the season if appropriate. Just improves the flexibility overall especially with a stadium prone to rain outs

  • I tried to post this earlier tonight in Jared's piece, but I'll try again.

    What about a 6 man rotation with only 5 starters, where the 6th man piggybacks on a different starter each time through the rotation.

    Example:
    1st time through rotation

    SP1 (2 innings) +piggyback starter (5-6 innings)
    SP2 normal start
    SP3 normal start
    SP4 normal start
    SP5 normal start

    2nd time through rotation
    SP1 normal start
    SP2 (2 innings) +piggyback starter (5-6 innings)
    SP3 normal start
    SP4 normal start
    SP5 normal start

    And so forth.

    This lessens the load of the starters but keeps them on normal rest and routine.

    I forget where I saw it, but arrieta is insanely good with an extra days rest (maybe small sample size), so he might be a good candidate for the 6th man role. However, he might not like to get fewer starts in a contract year (maybe he gets an extension?), nor come out of the bullpen.

    I'm not sure how this would impact the playoff rotation, but it seems as though it would be better than a straight 6 man rotation because the body would adapt to the added rest, but then get shocked with less rest in the playoffs.

  • I tried to post this earlier tonight in Jared's piece, but I'll try again.

    What about a 6 man rotation with only 5 starters, where the 6th man piggybacks on a different starter each time through the rotation.

    Example:
    1st time through rotation

    SP1 (2 innings) +piggyback starter (5-6 innings)
    SP2 normal start
    SP3 normal start
    SP4 normal start
    SP5 normal start

    2nd time through rotation
    SP1 normal start
    SP2 (2 innings) +piggyback starter (5-6 innings)
    SP3 normal start
    SP4 normal start
    SP5 normal start

    And so forth.

    This lessens the load of the starters but keeps them on normal rest and routine.

    I forget where I saw it, but arrieta is insanely good with an extra days rest (maybe small sample size), so he might be a good candidate for the 6th man role. However, he might not like to get fewer starts in a contract year (maybe he gets an extension?), nor come out of the bullpen.

    I'm not sure how this would impact the playoff rotation, but it seems as though it would be better than a straight 6 man rotation because the body would adapt to the added rest, but then get shocked with less rest in the playoffs.

  • Hmmm. I have to wonder if pitching every 6th day, instead of every 5th, is so foreign to our starters that it effects them negatively. Can too much rest be a bad thing?

    But Ross on a one year deal is a no brainer.

    How about a sign and flip? To the Yankees in July for Torres? ; )

  • In reply to TTP:

    Off days during the season provide the same extra day of rest for a 5 man rotation so it wouldn't be foreign to them. Also, I doubt the Cubs would be using the full 6 man rotation all season even if all of their guys are healthy. I could imagine a scenario in the weeks that the team does have a scheduled off day they could drop Monty or Ross to the bullpen for a week, or decide to skip Lackey to give him some extra rest.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I don’t think the 6-man rotation would be a problem with the signing of Ross. Just like the pointless debate about the lineup and playing time, having all the starting pitchers would work itself out as well except for the perfect best case scenario where everyone stays healthy all year long.

    In a perfect world of signing Ross, he’s ready to pitch in late April or early May. If all 5 of our other starters are healthy at that point, Montgomery moves back to the bullpen and makes an occasional spot start when we don’t have an off day that week. Everyone else stays on the normal schedule instead of moving ahead a day for that extra game in that week.

    But more realistically, Ross isn’t ready to start for a few months. At that point we may have a pitcher on the DL, or a pitcher will go to the DL for a short time after he comes back and the 6-man rotation is short lived. If Ross comes back a month or two in and pitchers stay healthy then we can give them extra rest and use Monty in the bullpen a bit. Not a problem.

  • Had a comment need approval, would love to get some feedback on it. Please release it when you can.

    The comment is clean, any idea what caused it needing approval so that I can avoid it in the future?

  • fb_avatar

    Joe thinks differently that's for sure. I did like hitting the pitcher 8th and the 6 man rotation, especially how many innings Jake and John and Lackey have pitched the last few years it seems wise to limit them during the regular season. It might put a bit more pressure on the bullpen, but maybe with fewer starts the pitchers could go deeper into the game.
    I hope the Cubs sign Ross. Another talented player for a year or two and not spending too much money. If he does pitch well then he could sign somewhere else in a year or two for much more than the Cubs would spend.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'm a little concerned about how a 6-man rotation would work. I'm not saying it won't. However, if Maddon still wants a well-stocked bullpen during the stretches of a 6-man rotation then we could be looking at a really short bench. I suppose we could have a rotating "extra guy" in the bullpen and use a starter down there on a strict 1 inning limit or something like that (and maybe have that be part of their "between start work"--Maddon's done it before). I suppose with the infield/outfield versatility of the bench it might work out fine. I am just worried about those long games where we need to use everyone and pretty soon the cupboard is bare. Then again, that may never actually occur; or occur so seldom as to be drowned out by the beneifts of the 6-man rotation.

    I do definitely think that it helped this post-season to have Arrieta and Lester relatively rested.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I think the key word is "occasional" 6 man rotation. My guess is that this would be used in a couple 3-6 week stretches throughout the season. Ross may not be ready early. Montgomery can be flexible as a long man or a bullpen weapon come playoff time.

    Ideally: Lester, Jake, Hendricks are all around 200 IP for the year. Montgomery is around 140-150. In 2015, Jake had his unreal 2nd half, but did not have a fresh arm for the playoff run. I think this strategy is about keeping our best arms fresh for the playoffs.

    As you point out, the short bench is the obvious drawback here. Hopefully, the versatility helps. Not carrying 3 catchers helps. Occasionally moving pitchers with options (like Robby Z) helps.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I don't buy that a 6-man rotation will lead to deeper starts. I think Maddon likes to pull a pitcher at the first sign of ineffectiveness, especially with Hendricks. While it is sometimes fatigue that does this it is, in my opinion, just as often something else such as lack of command (which can be caused by too long of a lay off as well as fatigue), just bad match-ups in the game, bad luck, the other team is just plain really good, etc.

    If we have a 6-man rotation and a 7 man bullpen and 8 position players that leaves only 4 spots on the bench. In AL games it will mean 3 sports on the bench. An 8-man pen gets even worse.

  • fb_avatar

    The White Sox just signed Geovany Soto. Good luck Geo.

  • This is going to be a bad deal, I'm afraid. Ross might not pitch until June or so, then what? Almost every Cubs relief pitcher had some type of injury last year. An overstretched staff, leading to Chapman pitching more than six outs. Sure hope Davis won't disappoint.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Most everything I've read seems to indicate he could be ready as early as April but if the Cubs signed him why wouldn't you milk that until May or June? You've already got a 5th starter in Montgomery. I think signing Ross is a no-brainer for the Cubs if he'd take a contract with the option for the second year. If I'm Ross though I want a 1 year deal, no option and take my chances in FA next offseason.

  • I'm nervous about the health and depth of the bullpen, but I guess that's a concern of every team right? I like the idea of a Ross signing. Or even a flyer on Wood or Hammel. Neither of those two guys will come in and be dominate for a full season, but both have shown they can handle starts, especially Hammel. Although I really doubt Hammel is in serious contention to be brought back. I'd like to see Ross. Even though he's coming off an injury, if he can get back to full go at where he was before, it'd be a steal. I would prefer multiple years if the price is right.

  • Talk of a 6 man rotation you shouldn't be a surprise to any of us, Theo & Co. have said repeatedly that teams coming off long playoff runs the previous year(s) need to rest "regulars" a little more the following season. This is why Ross makes a TON of sense, even if he is not ready until May/June. April is full of extra off days which would essentially allow a 6 man rotation with 5 guys. Could go back to a 5 man rotation in May and then in June back to 6. Essentially I think every other month will be a 6 man rotation this season.

    If the Cubs miss out on Ross, Wood would make the most sense after that as he has started and relieved before so neither role would be "uncomfortable" for him. Plus he has value in the postseason. I wouldn't mind Hammel back but he is strictly a starter and has no value in the postseason so for me its a pass.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    But we only need 3-4 starters in the post-season and that can easily be covered by Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks and Lackey.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I agree what I am saying if you have someone like Wood he could easily shift back to the 'pen in the postseason. We know Hammerl wouldnt even make the playoff roster, Ross would be an unknown

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    It would not hurt my feelings to see Travis Wood back in the pen and maybe get a spot start or two. And he's a solid hitter, good baserunner, and even had a really solid inning in LF last year defensively. Besides - we already know he fits the team mindset and the coaches know him inside out by this point.

  • fb_avatar

    I'd like the cubs to sign Ross for two years, one being a mutual option. Then I'd like Eovoldi sign for two years, the cubs have plenty money to make this work with the money coming off the books next year. With the high cost of pitching I would rather these two guys than anybody else, to make a move for a top starter such as Archer would definitely cost us Jimenez.

  • In reply to tater:

    I am hoping they do not forget about Eovoldi, either. From ArizPhil; The trick there would be to get him to buy off on our top-notch rehab facilities in Arizona. Offer him a back-loaded major league deal while he spends the year on the 60-day DL rehabbing at the UnderArmour Performance Center in Mesa. Then a more substantial non-guaranteed salary in 2018 and possibly in 2019 as well (probably with a club option buy-out post-2017) when he should be ready to go full-bore.

  • fb_avatar

    I like the idea of inserting a guy like Ross into a 6 man rotation, because he has some upside. Most of those other names don't do anything for me, however. If he doesn't sign, they don't need to force it because they may have liked the idea. Pitching a mediocre (or unreliable) 6th starter doesn't make much sense.

  • John's article mentions a few "plan B" targets...Yusmeiro Petit, Scott Feldman, Vance Worley, Dillon Gee, and Jorge De La Rosa.
    Does anyone know the seniority status of these guys? Can they be optioned to minor leagues? If Cubs miss on their "plan A" targets, it would be good to sign 1-2 guys with minor league options. Let them start in Iowa and bring them to the MLB if they succeed and are needed.

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    Those were MLBTradeRumors suggestions. I don't know their status offhand, but they can try signing one to a minor league deal if the market remains weak.

  • I wonder if the Cubs would consider bringing in Edwin Escobar who was DFA'd by the Indians yesterday. This is a kid who was a top 50 prospect just a couple of years ago and while recent history is not good he's entering just his year 25 season.

  • I like the idea of a 6 man rotation for a different reason: what if they sign a Scott Feldman or Jason Hammel type as the 6th man? They were undervalued, but the Cubs saw the value potential in each. If the Cubs stay with a strict 6-man rotation that would net the 6th starter 17 or 18 starts by the end of July, and he could be flipped at the deadline for a prospect or other roster need.
    They only need four healthy starters for the playoffs and five to see them through the end of September. If the bullpen is solid, then the 6th man would never make the playoff roster. Might as well flip him. No?
    Maybe this is Theo's new way of trying to keep the farm stocked now that they'll be consistently picking lower third of the amateur draft?

Leave a comment