The Reserve Clause

3/11/19

Doubleheaders, Rainouts and the Four-Man Rotation

I usually try to avoid making rules that dictate managerial strategy, because for one thing, people tend to resent being told how to manage their teams, and for another, those kinds of rules require me to monitor all the teams to make sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to be doing.

That being said I’m about to make one of those rules.

I’ve noticed that several teams have been using a four-man rotation this year. A few might have done so last year, too; I either didn’t notice it or decided not to worry about it.

The issue is not pitchers starting on three days rest—pitchers did that all the time back then, and were still doing so in the 1970’s. In my opinion they could still do it now with no ill effects.

The issue is doubleheaders. Four-man rotations and doubleheaders do not mix. It was for this reason that teams in the 1940s and 1950s did not use strict four-man rotations. They would try to start their top pitchers every fourth day when the schedule permitted it, but they would usually revert to a five- and sometimes six-man rotation when there were doubleheaders so they could avoid having to start pitchers on two days rest.

If OOTP were a perfect simulation of real life, I would be okay letting teams risk injury by starting pitchers on two days rest. But it doesn’t appear that OOTP works that way. Injuries in this league are rampant, but they’re also random—as far as I can tell they are not caused by overuse. There appears to be no downside to overworking your pitchers in OOTP. That’s not realistic, and in this league, “not realistic” is not okay (See here).

So, there’s a new rule, effective more or less immediately:

Teams must use at least a five-man rotation during the regular season.

If you want the A.I. to use the top two or three starters in your rotation as often as possible, you should use the setting “Always start highest rested”. This will in effect give you a four-man rotation much of the time, but will cause the game to use your fifth starter when necessary.

“Strict Order” should be avoided except in Spring Training or the postseason. Rainouts and doubleheaders play hell with strict order.

If you want to use a shorter rotation and strict order during a short sim (like the three-or-four-day sims we sometimes go to towards the end of the season), that’s okay.

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