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Monday Rockpile: Reliever Rest A Potential Puzzle in Paired Rotation

Ok Chris, you're going to go 30 pitches next, then Jordan for 30 after you, and then Jorge De La Rosa is gonna make a rehab start for the 5th and 6th innings.
Ok Chris, you're going to go 30 pitches next, then Jordan for 30 after you, and then Jorge De La Rosa is gonna make a rehab start for the 5th and 6th innings.

Rockies' bullpen has been stellar, helping four-man rotation work - The Denver Post

Troy Renck from the Denver Post, despite the exhaustion from covering this team throughout this miserable marathon of a season, was able to take some time to put together an opinion piece on the paired pitching system and pointing out some drawbacks. Yesterday, Rox Girl gave some feedback on Renck's piece, so it's mostly been covered, but these two sentences stuck out to me:

The piggyback relievers know they are going to pitch on every third day. That allows a predictable routine between outings and adequate rest.

Properly resting a bullpen is always a topic of debate during the season. The most obvious point of contention is the almighty Closer Role (TM), and only using Rafael Betancourt in the 9th inning when the Rockies have a lead of 3 or less. I'm not going to grind that particular axe today, however, as 1. It's still stupid and 2. Every MLB manager still does it. Outside of the logical issues, the problems in context are that your closer is either over or underworked, given the limited situational use.

As for everyone else, every manager has a couple of pitchers who they just bury, such as Matt Belisle. Now that the Rockies are working in a completely different pitching system, there needs to be an entirely new way of managing a new set of pitchers. The basics seem to be in place: piggybackers generally start their own inning, and are generally given 2 days' rest before pitching again. This is likely to change going forward should the Rockies decide to go with a true paired pitching system with 4 starters and 4 piggybackers.

Off Topic

Right now though, the piggybackers seem to be responding well to the whole 2-days rest thing. Based on OPSallowed splits by days of rest, the Rockies' bullpen seems to respond best to pitching on consecutive days or pitching on 2 days' rest. The 0-and-1 days rest splits tend to reflect the 1-inning guys most, such as Matt Reynolds, Rex Brothers, and Rafael Betancourt.

At least in the cases of Adam Ottavino and Josh Roenicke, 2 days rest seems to be working well. Low OPS allowed means better batter-getting-out-ing, meaning better pitcher success, meaning, hopefully, eventually, more wins.

What will make this interesting (as if we didn't have enough interesting things going on) next season is how you rest these guys. If we're working 2 concurrent rotations (4 man starters, 4 man piggybackers), you're kind of locking up 2/3 of your pitching staff as unavailable for spot use. BUT, if the piggybacker corps is on a 4-man, 3-day-rest rotation, you'd assume that both of the pitchers would have a side session on day 2 of the rest cycle. Should both the starter AND the piggybacker be available on their side session day for 1 inning of relief work, that adds 2 pitchers for all them matchups and such. If you don't need them, they throw a side session as normal, and everything's back to business as usual.

Yes, the paired pitching system is questionable. It could just be a crutch for a bad pitching staff. It could also be something that changes the way MLB pitching is approached. I'm thrilled that the Rockies are doing something ridiculous, because once we've crossed the line of "we're not going to run a pitching staff like the rest of MLB", you can pull all of the stops out, because it's already been established that conventional wisdom is being bucked. So why not throw starters as relievers in lieu of their side sessions? The sky's the limit, and Colorado certainly has the altitude.

Blackmon's season to continue when Rox's ends | News
This offseason, Charlie Blackmon is going to be playing for La Romana in the Dominican Republic. I love seeing our guys in Dominican and Venezuelan winter ball.

Hernandez: Altitude affects recovery | News
Altitude means quicker dehydration means slower recoveries. Maybe Brad Andress was on to something.

And in case you missed it:

Asheville, Rockies extend PDC by four years | Features
The Asheville Tourists (Low Class A; Sally League) and the Colorado Rockies extended their player-development contract for four more years, through the 2016 campaign.