Is The Six-Man Rotation Here To Stay?

BOSTON, MA: Kyle Davies #34 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates after Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox is out in the sixth inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Baseball teams have a fever, and apparently the only cure is the six-man rotation.

It began with the White Sox, who opened the season with four dependable starting pitchers, found another in Phil Humber, then got Jacob Peavy (and his huge salary) off the Disabled List. Aside from a month when John Danks was on the DL and until Edwin Jackson got traded last week, the White Sox rocked the six-manner since the middle of May.

Hey, it made sense, sort of. Especially considering Peavy's fragility. Sure, when you look at Peavy's 5.27 ERA you might figure that extra day off, every time around, didn't actually help much. But who knows? Maybe with shorter rest he'd have a 6.27 ERA instead.

The virus is spreading, though.

The Royals recently deployed six starters because it was so terribly important to get Kyle Davies regular work; this has ended, at least temporarily, only because Davies is hurt.

The Mariners were considering going with six starters, until Erik Bedard somehow got traded to a good team.

And now you can add the Yankees to the list. Oddly, considering the knock on the Yankees for most of this season was that they didn't have enough starting pitchers ... now they've got too many? Yeah. For a week, anyway.

Granted, only the White Sox have really committed to this thing. But if there were Twitter just for baseball strategy, six man rotation would definitely be trending.

Why, though?

A couple of reasons, I think.

The obvious reason is that teams are more concerned than ever about wear-and-tear on their starting pitchers. They're always on the lookout for a chance to give a pitcher -- particularly a pitcher who's maybe a little gimpy -- an extra day off, here or there. And if you happen to have six at-least-competent starting pitchers ... well, why not?

The not-so-obvious reason is that baseball players are more sensitive, their agents and their union more powerful, than ever before. If you read between the lines a little, you might get the impression (as I have) that some of this stuff about six-man rotations is about not wanting to offend the sixth-best starter at hand (coughKYLEDAVIEScough).

Five years ago, some of us were still arguing for a return of the four-man rotation.

Five years from now, some of us might be fighting a rear-guard action in defense of the five-man rotation.

Update: I missed one! The Rays are using six starters, too!

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