I promised you guys a while back that I would write a story about the 4 and 1/2 man rotation, but I am a liar. Eventually I'll get around to it. In the meantime, I enjoyed Howard Megdal's column in The Observer postulating that the Mets should go to a six-man rotation when Pedro Martinez returns to action. He's wrong, of course, but Megdal and Tim Marchman are my two favorite mainstream media Mets writers, so we'll cut him some slack.
I would actually go for this plan under a specific set of circumstances, none of which are likely to happen in this scenario. If you're telling me that:
* The seventh reliever in the bullpen is going to become the sixth starter (or more appropriately, that Joe Smith or Jorge Sosa will be sent to AAA to make room for Pedro), and
* The fifth and sixth starters (presumably Mike Pelfrey and Nelson Figueroa) will be used as relievers between starts, and
* Santana, Maine and Perez will skip the sixth starter whenever they would have more than five days' rest (because of a scheduled off-day between starts), and
* Resting an extra day means the manager can re-think pitch counts and let each starter go deeper into games (10 pitches? 20 pitches?)
then you may have something intriguing.
But a six-man rotation would presumably still come with a seven-man bullpen. That leaves just four bench players on the roster - and the Mets have a paper-thin bench as it is. This six-man rotation would take appearances away from the three best starters (Santana, Maine and Perez) and give them to inferior pitchers. I don't care if some starters are slightly more effective on five days' rest as oposed to four - there are enough scheduled off-days during the season that it's going to happen from time to time anyway. Finally, there's no reason to believe that extra rest will make any Met starter more efficient, so even with extra rest Willie is still going to pull a guy after 5 2/3 innings and 98 pitches anyway.
It gets bantered about from time to time, but I wonder if bringing back the old "Sunday starter" concept would benefit Pedro. It would only be useful if the Mets employed a six-man regular bullpen while deploying Pelfrey or Figueroa as the occasional long man and if it didn't negatively affect the number of starts from the front three in the rotation. I'll try to expand upon this more later in the week.