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The 6-Man Rotation: Should The Cubs Try It?

A six-man rotation doesn't make a lot of sense, most of the time. But for the Cubs' remaining games, it just might.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Dale Sveum hinted that the Cubs might go with a six-man rotation after confirming that Scott Baker's good first outing would get him more starts this month:

"He's definitely going to start again," Sveum said. "We were kind of just recently figuring it out, and tomorrow we'll probably have a better idea. But he'll definitely start in probably the next five, six days."

As of Monday, the Cubs had their upcoming probable pitchers listed through the end of the series in Cincinnati, and it's likely Chris Rusin and Jake Arrieta will make their scheduled starts in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday. That leaves Saturday's game against the Pirates open as a potential second start for Baker, especially after Sveum said on Sunday that the Cubs could go with a six-man rotation.

The Cubs have 19 games remaining going into Tuesday night's game in Cincinnati. Subtract the four between Tuesday and Friday and that leaves 15 games to go beginning Saturday, when Baker could get that second start.

Why not? With only 15 games left, if Baker starts Saturday and remains in a six-man grouping, the remaining season rotation would look like this:

9/14 vs Pirates: Scott Baker
9/15 vs Pirates: Travis Wood
9/16 vs Brewers: Edwin Jackson
9/17 vs Brewers: Jeff Samardzija
9/18 vs Brewers: Chris Rusin
9/19 vs Brewers: Jake Arrieta
9/20 vs Braves: Scott Baker
9/21 vs Braves: Travis Wood
9/22 vs Braves: Edwin Jackson
9/23 vs Pirates: Jeff Samardzija
9/24 vs Pirates: Chris Rusin
9/25 vs Pirates: Jake Arrieta
9/27 vs Cardinals: Scott Baker
9/28 vs Cardinals: Travis Wood
9/29 vs Cardinals: Edwin Jackson

This would leave three more starts for Samardzija and Wood and probably get them both over 200 innings; the Cubs haven't had two 200-inning starters in one season since 2008 (Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly).

I'd do this, I think; it would give a total of four starts to evaluate Baker, as well as three more each for Arrieta and Rusin to show what they've got for 2014.

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