Means 9 trips through the rotation for each starter, and got me to questioning what would be the best way to appropriate those starts from now - 117 games in - through the rest of the season.
The clear emphasis must be on 2019 and 2020 and what will best serve the club moving forward. That is not to say that you stop pitching Berrios, Odorizzi, or Gibson; those guys need to stay in rotation and continue to demonstrate that they can last an entire season and get their 30+ starts in. Injuries create opportunities but lack of injuries cannot serve to block those same opportunities.
I don't intend to break down every match-up and start, but more to the point, who do I want to see and how many times between now and season's end? Let's start by saying that if we maintain the existing rotation of Odorizzi, Berrios, Santana, Gibson and Stewart, that each would pitch 9 more times and the chart would look like this:
First, I would identify those starters I want to see pitch (whose names do not appear on the above list). I have 4: Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Michael Pineda. At this point, Pineda can continue his rehab until he is a little more stretched out, but I would like to see him for the last month, so (in an ideal world) I'll put his number at 5. Romero can continue to pitch in AAA, though I would like him to get a taste of regular rotation work for the next few weeks until he hits his innings limit (he's at 129.1 now), so I would pencil him in to start 4 more times at the mlb level, starting now, and see where that puts him. That might, honestly, dovetail into the Pineda starts as a timetable.
I am most interested in seeing Gonsalves pitch, so would put him down for 7 trips through the rotation between now and season's end.
The only way to get to the final numbers below is to switch to a 6-man rotation immediately, to rest the arms of the regulars and give opportunities to the newcomers, so that's what I do. It still does not create sufficient opportunities for all four so something else has to give. The victim in all this is Ervin; until and unless he can get his FB back up to 92 (which he won't), he is injured and on a rehab assignment. There is an argument that you continue to pitch him to see if someone will give you a C prospect for him or save a million dollars with a pass through waivers and a trade, but I don't see that happening either.
So here is what it looks like:
So I have my six-man rotation, with Odorizzi, Berrios, Gibson and Gonsalves getting regular rotation work through the end of the season. I have Romero pitch the next 4 times he is scheduled on regular (or 6-man) rest, followed by Pineda starting the remaining games through the end of the season, and Romero potentially available out of the BP for long relief and to ensure he gets to the innings limit they have set for him. I have Mejia and Stewart rotate through the final spot (Stewart for 4 more now, and then a well-rested Mejia for the last 4 while Stewart finishes out the season in the expanded BP as an additional long man).
Not only will this give me a look at the 2019 candidates, but it will inform me whether the above group is sufficient to attack the upcoming season (and yes, we can always use a frontline starter, but the question is whether or not we need another pitcher in the Odorizzi/Lynn/Stewart mode as a veteran who will take regular turns in the rotation but provide fairly middling results, if we're not being too optimistic about them).
The lost season is quickly dwindling away, and the vague notion that we'll get a chance to see all of these guys when rosters expand is not accurate. This needs to start now if we are to get any meaningful feedback - and any valuable information - from the wreckage of 2018.