Yost may let matchups decide rotation
An abundance of pitching has manager thinking outside of box
MILWAUKEE -- With the All-Star break upon his team, manager Ned Yost has been trying to set his rotation for the second half, but he has a problem.
He has too many starting pitchers.
It's a good problem to have for a manager looking down the stretch, very possibly at a race to the playoffs. Yost's surplus of starting pitching has forced him to think outside the box, and he may have come to a solution.
Yost is kicking around the idea of using favorable matchups to fill the fifth spot on any given turn through the rotation. According to Yost, it will put Seth McClung and Dave Bush in the best position to pitch well in each outing.
"You're looking at all of this kind of 'big picture' stuff," Yost said. "Because you're managing all the way through September, so you want to make sure your club stays strong."
After the Brewers traded for CC Sabathia, it seemed that either Bush or McClung would become the odd man out. Ben Sheets, Manny Parra and Jeff Suppan join Sabathia in the rotation, leaving not much room for Bush and McClung.
Yost's decision was delayed because Suppan was on the 15-day disabled list, but he threw a side session on Sunday, felt great and will be activated to make his next outing.
While nothing is set in stone, Yost certainly has the wheels turning.
"I'm still thinking about it," Yost said. "I'm thinking seriously about matching up. You look at the numbers, and you want to put each of them [Bush and McClung] in a position where they can be successful."
If the plan went as Yost described on Sunday, for each turn in the rotation, the fifth starter would be decided by looking at the numbers and deciding who would be the best fit on that given day. If Bush were to take the turn in the rotation, McClung would then become the long man in the bullpen, and vice versa.
The glaring reason why Yost couldn't ignore this possibility is the stark difference between the home and road performances of Bush and McClung.
Bush has flourished at home (4-2, 2.50 ERA) and has struggled on the road (1-6, 6.95 ERA), while McClung has done the opposite. McClung has a 3.28 ERA and batters are only hitting .237 against him on the road, but he has an ERA over 5.00 at home.
Yost knows the proposal is unconventional. He's never experienced anything like it in the big leagues.
"I've never seen it, even," Yost said. "But I think it makes sense. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel; all I'm trying to do is give us the best chance to win every day.
"We'll see how it goes. If it becomes too big of a strain on both guys, then I'll have to make a decision and put one in the 'pen, but I just want to give it a shot and see if it works. We've got the pitching."
The Brewers manager just doesn't want to lose any good starts from either of his fifth-starter candidates.
"The thing is that they are both throwing very well right now, and you don't want to bury one of them in the 'pen," Yost said. "This way, they are both throwing and they are both in a position to do well, and not only for themselves but for our team."
Yost understands that the constant transition between starting and being the long man in the bullpen might be hard on Bush and McClung, but he talked to Bush and the righty said he's willing to do whatever he can to help the team win.
"I talked to Bush about it. ... I haven't talked to McClung because he pitched [on Saturday]," Yost said. "Bushy said, 'I'll do whatever you want me to do,' but I think he was a little uncomfortable with it.
"It's just the unknowns of it."
David Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.