Over the past two Astros games, Jim Deshaies has been talking about the Astros going to a six-man pitching rotation. And Deshaies has given a lot of reasons for doing this, but as much as I like JD, I'm a little disappointed in that, with all of his discussion about going to the six-man rotation, he's failed to give the one, defining reason why the Astros shouldn't: the pitching sucks.
Back before John Smoltz was scheduled come off of the disabled list, there was talk up in Boston about the Red Sox going to the six-man rotation because they were unsure of what to do with Smoltz. The Red Sox rotation, at the time, consisted of Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, and Daisuka Matsuzaka. That is a quality five-man rotation, with Wakefield and Lester -- the three and four starters -- being worthy of at least a two or three spot in most MLB pitching rotations. So the thinking was to go the six-man rotation, especially since Matsuzaka might be better with more time off between starts. But Matsuzaka ended up going on the disabled list, so the Red Sox don't have to worry about this issue at the moment.
The Astros, for some reason, are also contemplating going to the six-man rotation.
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The Astros six-man rotation, should they go to it -- and JD says they would use it until at least the All-Star break -- would be Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton, and Felipe Paulino. That's quite a difference between the proposed Red Sox rotation. It's possible that Hampton, Ortiz, and Moehler might be able to crack the starting rotation of the Washington Nationals, but it's doubtful that they could make the starting rotations of many other MLB teams, and it just makes no sense for the Astros to go to a six-man rotation so that one of these guys can pitch.
The Astros are supposedly worried, according to JD, that Hampton and Ortiz will not be able to take a heavy load of innings because of their lack of pitching over the past several years. First, for that happen, Hampton's got to stay off of the disabled list, which so far, he hasn't been able to do. Second, for that to happen, these two guys have to show a consistent ability to get past the fifth inning, which also, so far, has yet to happen.
It's one thing for Josh Becket to miss starts over a season because a team's trying to find a way to get John Smoltz into the rotation. It's another thing for a team to force Roy Oswalt to lose starts because they're trying to find a way to get starts for Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz, and Brian Moehler. If anything, the Astros should be trying to figure out a way to get Oswalt more starts, not less.
Then again, manager Cecil Cooper's not known for his ability to make decisions, and after getting his ass kicked by Shawn Chacon last season, general manager Ed Wade's probably too much of a coward to make such a decision. So in their crazed minds, it probably makes more sense to go with a rotation that consists of one really good starter (Oswalt), one so-so starter (Paulino), one mediocre starter (Rodriguez), and three washed-up veterans than it does to worry about one of the washed-up vets going Chacon on their ass.