Ok, now that the most radical of my three studies has been presented (the 6/5 man rotation flex options), my next question is how that compares to a basic, straight forward, 6-man rotation. Again, it has to be played out over the actual 1st half schedule and the impact of off days. But the question to be answered is whether trying to run a flex schedule holds an opportunity or better pitcher management versus a basic rotation, or is it just a bunch of messy confusion that is not worth the hassle?
Recall that, in my opinion, the flex model where Ohtani is placed and protected as the 4-slot:
It heavily favors all 5 of the main pitchers realizing more 5 days of rest between starts, evens out total number of starts among them, and gives Ohtani the potential of 54 games as DH.
So, comparatively, what does the straight 6-man look like? It looks like this:
Now, it should be intuitively obvious that if we are using a straight rotation, there really won’t be much of a difference in the tables simply because Ohtani is moved from slot to slot. It’s a locked up rotation that rolls through the calendar. The number of games that each slot will have with 5 days of rest between starts will not change simply because Ohtani is in this slot or that slot. Not with a simple carousel of assignments.
What DOES change, but not by any appreciable degree, is the number of DH opportunities for Ohtani. If he occupies the #1 slot in the model he has a max of 52 opportunities to DH (and Pujols would be plying defense at 1B). That is what is presented above. To shortcut all the imagery, just know that the DH opportunities for Ohtani slotted at #2 through #6 are 54, 51, 52, 53 and 53 respectively. So a high of 54 and a low of 51. Big deal.
So, there is no need to present the other 5 images to get the point. The only things that really change are the values in the DH and Total columns, and those not by enough to post the images.
What jumps out to me, though, is how such a model becomes so heavily weighted towards 6 days of rest between starts. My expectation with my final study (which I have yet to do), is that the traditional straight 5-man rotation is heavily weighted towards 4 days of rest between starts. If true, this would mean moving to a straight 6-man rotation tends to add 2 more days of rest between starts to 5 guys in the rotation for which that would be extremely foreign, AND would also move Ohtani from what might have been a lot of 5 days rest to a lot of 6 days rest between starts. (Yeah, it would be very helpful to have a Baseball-Reference for NPB so that I could actually verify what Ohtani is used to.)
To confess, I was actually expecting to see this. It was my supposition in the first place that led me to dive into the modeling. I was guessing that being flexible and not rigorous, while protecting the routine with which Ohtani is most comfortable, might be more advantageous than simply filling out boxes in a fixed order. And by exploiting a flex, I was hoping to find that it can allow for some minimal randomness for the other 5 guys while potentially allowing them to recover just a tiny but better between starts without getting rusty. That is why I started with the flex model.
Based on this, my guess is that the LAA Front Office and coaching staff have seen something similar and will lean towards some form of flex. They have more people and more time and more collaboration (not to mention a lot more information and communication with the pitchers themselves) than I do, so I expect a far more nuanced flex plan, maybe even one that runs in and out of a straight 6-man. If they end up going with a basic 6-man, it will be because of feedback that they have from their pitching staff, and that would be informative too, but for different reasons.
Now the last thing is to put the traditional 5-man straight rotation into this kind of view, and see what everything has always looked like (and will look like for the other 31 teams). How radical is the impact of going with any 6-man rotation?
So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree that striving to find a flex plan is advantageous? Is it worth the effort? Is it more or less disruptive to between start routines?
(Again, if anybody wants the source Excel workbook for this just DM me.)