Tampa Bay Rays plan on using four-man rotation, bullpen day for 2018 season


While other teams are pondering using six-man pitching rotations this season, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash is going with the opposite mindset and is planning to use a four-man rotation throughout the 2018 season.

Under Cash’s plan, four pitchers will still work on regular rest, but instead of going with a regular starter on every fifth day, Cash said it will be a bullpen day and he’ll have three or four relief pitchers go through the batting order once.

“Our plan, we’re not going to five,” Cash said. “We’re going to try to stay at four. We’re going to have some bullpen days in there. We’re going to try and do that for a long period of time. We’re going to learn a lot in the first six weeks.”

Last month, Cash discussed using a four-man rotation of Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Jake Faria and Nathan Eovaldi for the first six weeks of the season, when the Rays have multiple off-days. Veteran Matt Andriese would instead come out of the bullpen.

“If we ran a five-man rotation, we’re talking an extra day and two extra days, basically almost every time through [the rotation],” Cash told reporters in February. “I think any starting pitcher would tell you it’s not ideal for them, and we’re just going to kind of shorten that up and insert a starter or a spot starter or a bullpen day on those days.”

The Texas Rangers said earlier this spring that they were looking at using a six-man rotation this season, but they have since backed off the idea after criticism from veteran Cole Hamels.

“It’s not part of baseball,” Hamels said March 3. “I know that’s the new analytical side of trying to reinvent the wheel, but I was brought up in the minor leagues on the five-man [rotation], and that’s what I’m designed and conditioned for.

The Los Angeles Angels also have discussed using a six-man rotation, while the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs tried it in 2017.

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