When the Cincinnati Reds went after Shohei Ohtani, they researched a six man rotation.
The reasons that the Cincinnati Reds were willing to work with Shohei Ohtani still exist. The Reds claim it would be difficult to train for that much off time. The thought is that since they see a five man rotation in the minors, it should be maintained in the majors.
That though is ill-founded as the three veterans hoping to be in the rotation, Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, and Brandon Finnegan, all missed most or all of 2017. The Reds also have at least three separate young starters that could provide the rest of a six man rotation. Rather than have all six start in the rotation, the Reds seem interested in starting the season with one or more in the bullpen or down in Triple-A.
In that vein it is likely that the Reds will move starters into the pen permanently. Brandon Finnegan and Cody Reed are both likely relievers heading into 2018. Finnegan because of injury and Reed because of performance will likely only get looks as relievers.
Last year the Reds had the youngest roster in MLB in large part because of their young pitching staff. in 2018 the Reds will be a year older and plan on having Anthony DeSclafani back in the mix with Homer Bailey. Those two alone could benefit from a six man rotation after being the heart of the Reds’ plans last year.
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The Cincinnati Reds should use a six man rotation to start the season and go from there.
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The flexibility that a six man rotation could provided is something that the Reds cannot pass up on. Taking Bailey and DeSclafani to go with Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, and Robert Stephenson to start the season is a big win. The Reds just need to approach it for what it is.
They should treat it like a five man rotation with an extra day of rest the day before the start. That way if someone has a 2/3 of an inning start everyone steps up. If the a pitcher goes on the DL, then it becomes a five man staff.
The idea is that when everyone is healthy, the pitchers get an extra day to rest, reducing inflammation. Reducing inflammation is the best idea that medical staffs have to reduce starting pitching injuries. Aside from pitching fewer innings, the extra day of rest is the next best option.
Last year, there was a discussion of pairing starters like they do in the minors for a three man rotation. This year, it is the six man rotation. Until the Reds have five healthy starters, all ideas are on the table.