The Chicago Cubs are making moves, but it is not the moves one would expect.
Like all 30 teams, the best team in the MLB could use some pitching depth, even though the staff has the best ERA and Opponent’s BA Against in all of baseball.
But Joe Maddon learned last year that fresher pitching in the post-season is better pitching.
We all know that the Cubs were swept by the Mets in last year’s NLCS. The quality pitching for the Mets silenced the Cubs bats, but the rotation for the Cubs also seems off. Tired. Daniel Murphy feasted against the Cubs’ staff. This experience was insightful.
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On Tuesday, the Cubs optioned reliever Adam Warren to Triple-A Iowa in order to stretch him out for a few starts, giving the Cubs a six-man rotation. Cubs Manager Joe Maddon refers to Warren as “his favorite club in the bag,” due to his versatility. Warren can be brought in for specific match-ups, one inning work, or long-relief if needed. This could be a good move for the Cubs.
This would not be the first time that a team has gone to a six-man rotation. In August of 2012, then Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez went to a six-man pitching rotation to help health concerns on his staff. Similar concerns occurred in Pittsburg in 2012, and it affected A.J. Burnett.
The Pirates started the season 10-0 in games started by their ace but then moved to the six-man rotation. In what can only be compared to a game of “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego,” the Pirates kept Burnett on its normal five-day rotation, while the rest of the staff were on a six-day. Burnett soon struggled, as did the rest of the rotation.
Maddon has proven that he is a master magician and knows how to work his players. Is there a risk in moving to the six-man rotation? Of course.
It could disrupt the rhythm and routine of the rotations’ regulars. But, then again, it could provide much-needed rest for the staff as the Cubs begin a 24-game stretch with no off days before the All-Star Break.
An All-Star Break that may not provide much downtime for the MLB’s best rotation. It is a real possibility that three of the Cubs’ starter could be selected to the National League All-Star staff. The ultimate goal for this season is a trip to the World Series, the first since 1945. More post-season games mean more innings on the arms of the pitchers. The bullpen for the Cubs has been the least used in all of baseball.
This is a good thing if it means a more rested pen for the post-season. But it also means that the starters are pitching more. Many of the innings for the starting staff have been low-pressure situations, but could it be taxing them in the long run.
Only October will tell us the final outcome.