Neyer: The 3-man rotation is coming … sometime

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Fox Sports on November 25, 2015:

For a long time, there wasn’€™t any such thing as a “€œpitching rotation.”€ The managers didn’€™t want to be locked into anything, plus the uneven schedules didn’€™t really allow for it. Fairly strict four-man rotations became popular in the 1950s and ‘€˜60s, and finally the five-man rotation took over for good in the 1980s.

In the past few years, there’€™s the occasional talk about the six-man rotation and its even more occasional deployment. But never seriously, or for long. Essentially, we’€™ve been stuck with five men for roughly 30 years now.

To be sure, some things have changed. Thirty years ago, Bert Blyleven led the majors with 24 complete games, and 13 pitchers finished at least 10 complete games; this year, nobody completed even five games.

Still, as’€™s Mike Petriello points out, the decrease in starters’€™ workloads hasn’€™t been nearly as dramatic as you might think. In 1995, starting pitchers accounted for 66 percent of all the innings in the majors; this year they accounted for 65 percent. It seems that for every time a starter comes out “€œearly,”€ another stays in later.

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Originally published: November 25, 2015. Last Updated: November 25, 2015.