CHICAGO -- While the construction of pitching staffs has evolved a great deal over the past 25 years, one constant is teams tend to institute change in unison. Clubs have stricter pitch counts for starters than ever and bullpen roles are more specialized, but from team to team, it's mostly been a case of follow the leader.
When the Cubs prepared to face the Rockies on Friday for the first time this season, it was their initial glimpse at Colorado's out-of-the-box experiment with its starting rotation. For the past 2 1/2 months, the Rockies have gone with a four-man rotation while limiting pitch counts to 75 or so per outing.
Colorado hasn't had a starting pitcher throw 100 pitches since Jeremy Guthrie threw 102 on June 12. During that same time frame, the Cubs have had starters reach triple digits 18 times.
Since Rockies starters are likely to traverse an opposing lineup just a couple of times per game, you might think that would introduce some added complexity to the task of filling out a batting order. For example, you might not overload a lineup with lefty hitters against a righty starter if you know that you're going to have to face a litany of relievers later in the game.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said it's no big deal.
"Obviously, it's there, but you don't change your lineup around," Sveum said. "Like I said before, the bottom line is to do some damage against the starting pitching and then you move on from there.
"You can't predict what's going to happen in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning, so it doesn't affect how you're going make your lineup out. It's going to come down to the bullpen anyway, no matter what."
While the experiment in Colorado has generated a lot of discussion around baseball, Sveum said it's of no particular interest to him.
"They have a reason why they're doing it with young pitchers, and that kind of thing to keep pitch counts down, keep innings down," Sveum said. "We don't [plan to] introduce any philosophy like that, so it's something I don't even dwell on."
Not surprisingly, Colorado's 486 relief innings entering Friday's game were nearly 100 more than second-place Washington in the National League. The Cubs ranked ninth with 354 2/3 innings from their bullpen.