Starting Pitchers


When I played in little league (small “L”s; we weren’t affiliated with the official one), in a given week pitchers were limited to 6 innings, which happened to be the length of a game. We typically had two games a week, although sometimes three. As a result, most teams had two regular starting pitchers who would go as long as possible. If a third game occurred, then one of the normal relievers would go.

My last year in the league our manager took a different approach. I would start most games and go three innings, and then our other “starter” would pitch the next three innings. As a result, we could use this approach most weeks (obviously 3 game weeks being an exception; nothing we could do about that).

It worked out pretty well. I was the first starter and throw lefty. The second starter threw righty. We found that since we weren’t going to have to pitch deep into games, we could let loose a bit more and throw at a higher velocity. Not having to deal with an extra time or two through a lineup with a tired arm was a nice benefit. Mix in different throwing arms and we had another nice change of pace.

I haven’t heard of a similar approach at higher levels, although it wouldn’t shock me if a high school or independent league coach somewhere has tried it. While I’m not surprised MLB hasn’t, I’d really like to see someone give it a whirl. At that level, I’m not sure what the optimal breakdown would be since the innings are much higher, and the occasional double header could make things a bit crazy (don’t they always?).

As a Mets fan, it’d be pretty insane to see a single game that featured two or three of their awesome starters, so maybe I’m just biased.

(picture note: I don't have any pictures of me pitching in little league, so the one attached to this post is actually when I was in the next league up; we called it “Babe Ruth”, but again I'm guessing we had no affiliation with anything).