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Diamondbacks’ Lovullo leans toward 5-man rotation, despite circumstances

Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on from the top step of the dugout during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field on September 02, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The unusual nature of the 2020 Major League Baseball season will present teams with some unique options.

The advent of a designated hitter in the National League, the placing of a runner on second base in extra innings and the expanded roster limit for teams in the beginning of the season all give general managers and field managers flexibility on how to manage their team.

That doesn’t mean they’ll use that flexibility, though.

“We want to get to a five-man rotation,” manager Torey Lovullo told reporters in a video conference call on Thursday. “I think that’s the most important thing. Everybody’s been asking me if it’s possible to go to a six-man rotation, are we going to piggyback starters? We don’t know that answer. We have been walking through a bunch of different options, but I’m a traditionalist. I like that five-day rotation, I think the players like that five-day rotation because they know they get that extra day. And I don’t think an extra day is needed.”

The active roster limit for teams will begin at 30 before eventually winding down to 26. That plus the hurried “spring training 2.0” both could be motivating factors for teams to lengthen their starting rotation. For the Diamondbacks in particular, pitching depth makes a six-man rotation more doable; Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen, Mike Leake, Merrill Kelly, Jon Duplantier and Taylor Clarke are among their viable options.

Also, some teams are including top prospects in their pool of available players to use during the season. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported, for example, that the D-backs will add 20-year-old infielder and No. 4 prospect Geraldo Perdomo to the taxi squad. Half of the D-backs’ top 10 prospects are pitchers.

“That will be an option for us if we wanted to do that, yes,” general manager Mike Hazen said of an extended rotation. “I’m sure there will be some starters going in maybe or a starter going in behind another starter early, if we had to. Those will be an option for us, as well. With the extra inning rules (adding a runner on second base), we don’t have to be as protective, which is nice, in the early parts of ballgames.

“So the challenge with the six-man rotation is you start getting the guys that want to pitch on a five-day rotation off their schedules. Fine, it works if there’s no off-days. But now once you get an off-day, now around the seventh day, those are the challenges. The schedule needs to factor into this, too. I feel like we’re in a good position pitching-depth wise. I think we have a lot of it. I think we have quite a few starters so I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot.”


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