With the White Sox playing some better ball over the weekend, the team received the good news of Jake Peavy’s latest rehab start. Going into the start, he was allowed 100 pitches or seven innings of work, whichever came first. He accomplished both. It seems Peavy has bounced back pretty well since his scar tissue hiccup a few weeks back. With the former ace now in the fold, the question is who will lose their spot in the rotation when Peavy makes his scheduled return this week. The answer: probably no one.
It appears that pitching coach Don Cooper and Ozzie Guillen are toying with the idea of a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future. Obviously, when the season started, the Sox had Philip Humber slotted in the fifth spot in the rotation with the idea of just buying some time for the expected return of Peavy. Though the first five weeks of the season haven’t gone according to plan, Humber has been a present surprise. Despite only having a record of 2-3, the former first round pick of the Mets has posted a sparkling ERA of 2.97 in just under 40 innings of work. He’s been as good as anyone in the rotation thus far and appears to be keeping his spot in the rotation based on his performance.
Since Humber has solidified his spot in the rotation and the other four starters have proven track records, there appears no other option but to try this idea of a six-man rotation. My one big concern with this idea is that baseball players, especially pitchers, are creatures of habit. They all have their specific routines they run through on a daily basis and another routine when it’s their day to take the rubber. If these players get away from their everyday schedule, will it affect their performance? Also, is there something to be said for too much rest? With Danks, Floyd and Jackson I seriously doubt than an extra day of rest would hurt them, but I do have a concern with Buehrle. He has pitched pretty well over his last three starts, all coming on his normal four day rest. His style of pitching is not one that would benefit from an extra day off. Mainly using and guile and deception, Buehrle relies heavily on his ability to sink the ball away from hitters and cut it in on their hands. If Buehrle becomes too rested by pitching every sixth day he will lose the movement and his ball will flatten out. I know Ozzie and Coop are keeping an eye on Buehrle’s workload and have been doing so for quite some time, but over resting him could have negative results later in the season.
I’m almost positive a six-man rotation has never been tried. Teams sometimes consider cutting a struggling arm from their rotation, but never adding one to an already solid staff. I’ll admit, this is something I never saw coming and I am unsure of what results it will bring or even how long they will use it. If Peavy makes a successful return, the Sox now have six quality arms leading the way hoping to make something out of this 2011 campaign. I’ll be watching intently Wednesday night when Peavy make his first start since last August against the same team that the injury occurred. Here’s to hoping he can be a shot in the arm (no pun intended) this teams needs.