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Should San Francisco Giants Use Sixth Starter for Stretch Run?

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Should San Francisco Giants Use Sixth Starter for Stretch Run?
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Baseball managerial practices are organic. They change and shift according to knowledge into the laws of physics, culture, and economics.

In times of yore, a five-man rotation was thought to be useless, Cy Young started 49 games in a single year, and the concept of a closer would have been bizarre.

Getting back to the present, Stephen Strasburg's muscles flared a few weeks ago, and it seems he may be shut down for the year.

Baseball's "chosen one" had never pitched more than 128 innings in a season, and so nearing that number between the minors and majors this year, the Nationals began to tread carefully.

With his inflammation not abating, what are the chances they let him pitch again this year?

We live in the age of the pitch count and caution.

Looking at the numbers for the Giants' starting pitching staff this year, some interesting trends start to emerge.

At the start of the year with a well-rested staff, the Giants came out firing on all cylinders, with the exception of Todd Wellemeyer's road starts.

At home, however, Wellemeyer joined the party and the Giants maintained first place in their division.

Some ups and downs took them through the first half, but it was the offense's impotence during stretches that prevented them from winning, e.g. the series in Oakland.

But before the All-Star break, the pitching seemed to completely break down and looked fatigued. They lost seven in a row and the formerly dominant pitching staff became average to subpar.

Of course, many will point to the obvious friction—holding Buster Posey back and continuing to use the very much depleted Bengie Molina—as the source of the teams' woes.

The Giants traded Molina on June 30th, and the team has been much better since then.

Right before the All-Star break in Milwaukee, the team was able to get healthy on a fairly inept team, and Posey redonned his Iron Man suit and put the team on his back.

But the starting rotation really seemed to find themselves after the extra rest of the All-Star break.

Lincecum started the second half with a shutout. Zito followed with eight shutout innings.  Cain then gave up 2 ERs in seven innings. Sanchez also gave up 2 ERs in seven innings. And Bumgarner finished up the first cycle by going 5.2 IP and allowing 1 ER.

The Giants won four of five, and the starting rotation posted an ERA of 1.28.

Since then, the offense has outperformed every other one in baseball while the pitching has stayed solid.

But those first five games are instructive—with a little extra rest, the starting rotation dominated.

Furthermore, Lincecum needed to skip a start at the end of last year to refuel.

Now Wellemeyer is ready to return to the big league club and the Giants will have five-and-a-half starting pitchers.

Yes, I said five-and-a-half. Earlier this year I wrote an article suggesting Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde should be separated at the hip. In other words, Wellemeyer should just make his home starts. It was supposed to be funny...a joke.

But now, it actually seems to make sense. If the staff pitches better with a little extra rest, why not let Wellemeyer take a few home starts from here on out?

The Giants can go in one of two directions: either say we're embarrassed that the guy can't pitch on the road and not start him at all, or say we're proud the guy can knock it out at home and send him out there.

The glass is either half empty or half full.

But if the corollary that a better rested staff is more dominant is true, then a "5.5 Man Rotation Giants" would have the best staff in baseball going into September and October.

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