Monday, June 15, 2009

The Finisher

Tony Massarotti runs down five possible scenarios for the call-up of future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz to the Red Sox active roster. None of them is perfect, and the one that makes the most baseball sense (demoting Matsuzaka) would be hard to get past Dice-K himself. Mazz considers a six-man rotation, or a bullpen role for Smoltz, but frowns on both.

But how about a different approach altogether: make Matsuzaka and Smoltz "co-starters". Or to phrase the idea better, give Smoltz the role of "finisher" for Matsuzaka. Dice-K hasn't been getting past the 5th inning. Smoltz is 42 and coming off shoulder surgery: neither one is going to be throwing a lot of complete games. The argument against sending Smoltz to the bullpen is that he'd lack the every-five-games routine of a starter and the slow prep toward each start. But as Matsuzaka's "finisher", he could have that routine. Every five days he'd prepare, knowing he'd be brought in sometime during the game - the 2nd inning would be a good time in most Dice-K starts this year, but the 5th or 6th is what the Sox would hope for.

So Dice-K starts the game. He nibbles and throws 95 pitches through 4 innings, and Tito lifts him before the heart of the opponent's order gets their third look at him. Then Smoltz comes on and throws his 70 or 80 pitches and finishes the game or hands it over to the true bullpen in the 8th or 9th.

Now the bullpen won't be heavily taxed every five games to clean up Dice-K's mess, and both pitchers will be kept active, healthy, and fresh in case an injury occurs somewhere in the rotation, at which point the Sox can go back to a conventional rotation... or call up Clay Buchholz.

3 comments:

Mom said...

I really like that idea. It could relieve my anxiety when D-K is pitching!
Send it to the Sox, please.

BPF said...

sounds OK
i think it would work only b/c smoltz himslef has offered to go to the pen - most normal starters would never say yes. but i still think that dice-k would be really upset, and then what does tito do if hes thrown 50 pitches thru 4 innings and is blowing by everyone? he has to keep him in. and then smoltz would have to throw a bullpen session to make up the work, which anyone can tell you is not the same as a game - ne reaching back, no outthinking hitters, etc.
also: smoltz does not matter right now. if there is no room for him, they will NOT bring him up to a crazy bullpen role. they are content to let him set the international league record for strikeouts as long as he can pitch games 2 and 5 of the alds, alcs, and worlds series

Chops said...

Barn said:

they are content to let him set the international league record for strikeouts as long as he can pitch games 2 and 5 of the alds, alcs, and worlds series

Hahaha! I love it!