The Rockies Go To A Four-Man Rotation

Coors Field is being Coors Field again, with balls flying and batters partying like it's 1999. Despite the best efforts of the magic humidor, numbers are cartoonish and the only proffered explanation is that it's been extra dry in Denver this spring. Whatever the cause, the Rockies can't pitch. They've tried 10 different men in the rotation, and not a one has had success.

If you don't have a single effective starter, Jim Tracy figures, might as well maximize the contributions of the least ineffective ones. Last night was the first night of a grand experiment: a four-man starting rotation, the likes of which haven't been seen since the 70s. Between this and Joel Peralta's pine tar, it was a good day for old school baseball.

Jeremy Guthrie, with his 7.02 ERA, is out. In are Alex White (5.56), Christian Friedrich (5.60), Josh Outman (great name for a pitcher, but stil 8.41), and old head Jeff Francis (12.41 in just two starts). All four on strict 75-pitch limits, and sure enough, Outman left last night's game after four and a third, and 72 pitches. He was also bad enough to warrant being taken out without a pitch count, but these are the growing pains.

"I felt we had to do something non-conventional," said manager Jim Tracy, and this certainly qualifies. As Rob Neyer points out, the four-man rotation hasn't existed since the 1995 Royals, when Mark Gubicza, Kevin Appier, Tom Gordon, and either Jason Jacome and Chris Haney led the team to a just-under-.500 record, a mark the Rockies would kill for. So we'll see how this goes. It is just an experiment, after all. Just trying something, anything new, because the old way was inadequate and embarrassing.