Sep 15, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jake Petricka (52) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won the game 4-3. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
• Added stress on pitchers.
While highlighting the April schedule as a plus for the starters despite the added starts, it negatively affects the relief corps. If those starting pitchers throw more in April and falter in August and September as a result, that adds innings onto the bullpen guys.
With starters worn down come the stretch run due to a high workload in the early months of the season, the reliance on the bullpen becomes paramount, and that is no way to build sustainable success unless you are the Kansas City Royals of 2014. (And while Jake Petricka, Zach Duke, and David Robertson are fine pieces, they are not the three-headed monster coming out of Kauffman Stadium’s bullpen last year).
For a team that is eyeing its first postseason trip since 2008, it would be wiser to conserve their arms.
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Beck, the club’s 12th rated prospect is the most big-league ready arm outside Rodon in a starting capacity. Penny, while past the peak of his career, has shown he can get out big league bats, and logged over 180 innings as recently as 2011 with the Detroit Tigers. (Yes that was four years ago, but he would be fine for two starts in 2015.) Carroll was a serviceable fifth starter for the club at times during the 2014 season and would likely be more of the same this year.
While I do not think the White Sox could go wrong either way, I think the smarter thing to do in the long run would be to use the traditional five man set.
Not only would it give more time for Sale to get his work in following the injury, but it allows the pitching staff to stay rested, both in the rotation and the bullpen. I would chose from the trio of Penny, Beck, or Carroll and allow Rodon to mature in the minor leagues still. (After all, the North Carolina State product has only thrown 24.1 innings of professional ball.) There is no reason to stretch the pitching staff so early for a team that hopes to conclude their season in late October.
What do you think, would a four man rotation in April work? Is it worth the risk? Who, if anyone, should start the season as the fifth starter? Comment below!