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A pitcher can be either left- or right handed, but the better ones pitch reasonably well to both left and right handed batters. When you get to the fifth starter on the roster, however, many teams are dealing with marginal throwers.

Some bating teams have relatively more of left-or right-handed batters. So use one pitcher against the one set of teams and the other pitcher against the other set of teams. Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton of Pittsburgh come to mind. One is a lefty and one is a righty.

Are there any teams that in fact, do this, because they have "fifth" starters on the roster who throw a lot better against either left- or right handed batters? Perhaps combined with another back end starter who has "platoon" splits the other way? Meaning that it would make sense to "platoon" a "backend" starter role so that the tandem may actually be better than a fifth starter?

  • How would that work exactly? It's not like you change pitchers every batter. – wax eagle Oct 11 '14 at 23:46
  • @waxeagle: Some teams have relatively more of left-or right-handed batters. So use one pitcher against teams in column A and the other against teams in column B. More to the point, there seem to be some "fifth starters" that pitch much better against some teams than others. Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton of Pittsburgh come to mind. One is a lefty and one is a righty. – Tom Au Oct 11 '14 at 23:49
  • This happens all the time and several teams did it this year. It is usually due to an injury at first and hesitation to anoint the 6th starter. So the manager goes with matchups until the problem works its way out... The Cardinals even tried to not start Moyer at home a couple years ago. Not sure someone wants to do research on an obvious answer. – Coach-D Oct 12 '14 at 6:40
  • @Coach-D: I "sort of" had this sense (and even cited an example on my own), but feel that I lack a grasp of the "big picture," which you seem to have. Which is why I asked the question. – Tom Au Oct 12 '14 at 14:17
  • The Cardinals did this with Moyer a few years ago. His case was odd though because he was getting bounced when pitching away... so they just pitched him at home for a while. – Coach-D Oct 13 '14 at 6:46
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During the 2008 season, the Milwaukee Brewers used a platoon for the fifth starter position between Dave Bush and Seth McClung, following the mid-season acquisition of CC Sabathia.

info: http://m.brewers.mlb.com/news/article/3149657/

McClung gets the nod on the road, Bush at home. With McClung preparing for his start, Bush was available Friday out of the bullpen. McClung will shift to the long relief role in the middle of next week.

The statistical splits provided evidence for this uncommon approach, as Dave Bush's ERA at home was 2.49 and almost 7 on the road. Conversely, McClung's ERA on the road was 3.28 and almost 5 at home.

While Milwaukee made the playoffs that season, it was largely due to CC Sabathia going 11-2 with 7 complete games after joining the Brewers, not due to the 5th-starter platoon.

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