In Three Nights in August, Buzz Bissinger and Tony LaRussa talk about the importance of setting up your pitching rotation. There's even a fairly detailed example of how the Cardinals looked months and months ahead during the 2004 season so that they could set up their rotation as well as possible for future series that they identified as the most critical.
Given today's story in the Herald, I hope that the Marlins are doing the same. While the remaining games in August are by no means easy, come September the schedule gets downright brutal. For the entire month of September, the Marlins play only Eastern division foes - except for one four-game series against Wild Card leading Houston. As it stands today, each of those division rivals is still in the post-season hunt.
While everyone is in the race, I sure hope that the rotation is juggled so that the Marlins start Dontrelle Willis, A.J. Burnett, and Josh Beckett against the Astros (who are sure to roll out their big three of Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, and Andy Pettitte against the Marlins). (Barring injury) if one or two of the Marlins' Big Three misses that series, it will be a failure on the part of the coaching staff.
The next month and a half will provide some interesting baseball. Adding to the intrigue is that there are only three scheduled off days in September (the 1st, 19th, and 29th). That means that the 4th and 5th starters will be getting plenty of work.
In today's Herald article though, they talk about skipping the 4th and 5th starters so that the "Big Three" can always work on normal rest:
This new strategy means that we'll see Vargas tonight (his normally scheduled start) and Willis instead of Moehler tomorrow. It's purely speculation on my part, but we likely won't see Moehler until Saturday (at the earliest) - and if he's needed extensively in relief this week, he may not start until well after that.
All things considered, I like this strategy and hope that the Marlins are being proactive about using their Big Three.
As an aside, sometimes I feel bad because an entry here and there (or everywhere) doesn't really communicate much insight. But then I come across a gem like this from a credible, major newspaper and I feel a little better:
Clark Spencer wrote a nice article today about the pitching staff and the remaining schedule, but that line doesn't really add any value. I would suspect that anyone who has followed the team even remotely closely could have pointed that out.