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Ask Nick: Why not use a six-man rotation?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  September 11, 2013 02:55 PM

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Last week you had a question about the length of games and in your response you detailed the "grind out at-bats" theory. While I agree with you on this point, there is another side to that equation and that is the pitchers not being able to put hitter away. It seems every time a pitcher gets up 0-and-2 you know he is going to end up at 3-and-2. Earlier in the year and to some extent now, Lester was the greatest offender in this regard. I would think that if the hitters expected to get strikes, they would not be able to "grind out at-bats."
Kevin, Greensboro, N.C.
True, Kevin, but thatís part of the grinding out at-bats philosophy. Youíre right, pitchers generally donít throw strikes and the hitters know that, so they take, take, take. The teams that have gotten ahead on the count vs. Boston have beaten them, but it doesnít seem that a majority of them understand this concept, which is good for the Red Sox.

Watching Arnie Beyeler coach first base, I noticed he has what looks like a stopwatch or something in his right hand when he approaches a player on first to talk to them after each pitch. I was wondering what it is he is keeping track of and what information he would be relaying to the runner about it.
Rick, Rochester, N.Y.
I would guess itís the time of the pitcherís delivery to the plate, which often determines whether a runner will attempt a stolen base. Every team seems to have a different time. Lackey is one of the slowest, so youíll see a lot of stolen bases against him. Buchholz is one of the fastest, which is why it was strange to see the Rays attempt two steals against him Tuesday night (thrown out by Salty both times).

The last time the Evil Empire came around, A-Rod was supposed to be suspended, but managed to play in the Sox series by appealing. And we know what happened then. And now they're coming back, and he's still in the lineup. How long is this "appeal" supposed to be taking? Doesn't it get kind of farcical if he ends up playing almost the entire stretch run?
Paul, Washington, D.C.
Heíll play out the season Ė regular season and postseason if need be Ė because the hearing canít take place until heís able to be present for it. So whenever his season ends, thatís when the hearing will start. Thatís the bargained routine. If itís bargained, I have no problem with it.

How is this fair? Rosters expanded on Sept. 1. The Rays will play three more games than the Sox with the expanded roster. That is an unfair advantage. Should the rule be changed to expand the roster after a certain number of games played by the team to make it fair for all?
Dave, Maynard

Donít think the Rays have any advantage over the Red Sox as it turned out. The Red Sox have a lot of players up from Pawtucket as well. In general, the process needs to change. As Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin says, itís the only sport where you play with a different roster in the most crucial month of the season. The compromise idea is to allow each team five extra players per game. You can call up as many players as you want but only five can be active. Fair?

What are the future lineup spots for our young players? Can Middlebrooks provide the big bat in the middle of the lineup? Is Bogaerts a No. 3 or 4 hitter? Will Bradley Jr. lead off if Ellsbury leaves? Where does Lavarnway hit? Also, will Pedroia stay in the 3-hole or go back to second?
Tad, Rumford, R.I.
Questions, questions. Thatís in the future, of course. Middlebrooks should be a middle-of-the-order hitter with his power. Bradley should be a leadoff-type bat, but the one thing he needs to do is learn to steal bases. He has the speed for it, but itís part of his game that hasnít developed. Not sure they know what to do with Ryan Lavarnway. Not sure if they want to commit to him as a future starter. We know Pedroia can hit anywhere. I still like him No. 2.

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