Oates decides to put 5-man rotation in place

INSIDE PITCH

April 21, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Despite Monday's off-day, Orioles' manager Johnny Oates decided against keeping Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald on a strict rotation that had them pitching on the fifth day for three successive starts.

Now two days into a stretch of 13 straight games, figured it was the right time to take a look at his entire five-man rotation. That's the reason Arthur Rhodes, instead of McDonald, pitches against the Angels tonight and Sid Fernandez is being held back an extra day to face the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

"This was a good time for the off-day," said Oates. "It gave Mike and Ben an extra day after their third start."

For the first two weeks, Oates worked his rotation around Mussina and McDonald, pitching each precisely on the fifth day, with Jamie Moyer and Rhodes filling in and Fernandez joining the group last Sunday. He could've maintained such a schedule for one more start with his ace right-handers. But with all five starters scheduled at least twice in the next two weeks, he decided to give everybody an extra day of rest and keep them all on the same schedule.

"We're going to give everybody an equal opportunity," said Oates. "We have to find out some answers."

What Oates will be able to do after this stretch of 13 games is arrange his rotation in whatever order he desires. Two off days in the next four will allow him that opportunity.

However the arrangement develops, and it will still revolve around Mussina and McDonald, Oates said the left-right balance of his rotation will have little, if any, effect. He will not juggle his starters merely to separate his three left-handers.

Some managers, if they have only two pitchers throwing from the same side, prefer not to pitch them back-to-back. The reasoning is to keep platoon players from finding a groove by performing on successive days.

But, while acknowledging some benefit, Oates doesn't completely subscribe to the theory in this instance. "It really doesn't bother me how they pitch," he said, "because there's no way you can separate all of the left-handers.

"The only time I think it makes a difference is when you have a day game following a night game. Then, I think it's better if both pitchers throw the same way. That way if the opposing manager wants to rest somebody you don't make it easy for him.

"And either way, you might catch a break because somebody's either playing tired or is somebody you'd like to have out of the lineup."

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