Tuesday’s loss by Parra just begs these questions…

Mike Burns was called up from AAA Nashville on Tuesday morning to be used as a long reliever in place of Jorge Julio, who was released after his horrible performance Monday night.  Burns, a starter for Nashville, found himself in his first relief appearance of the season later tha day, spelling starter Manny Parra Tuesday night for his first MLB appearance since ’06.

Parra started the game, went 4 innings, and gave up 10 ER’s on 11 hits.

Burns game in, also pitched 4 innings, and allowed 0 ER’s on just 4 hits.

So…since both Parra and Burns essentially made a “start” (albeit just 4 innings)…Should skipper Ken Macha, if Burns is not needed in relief beforehand, think about giving Burns the start on Sunday?

With Tuesday evening’s loss, Manny Parra is now 3-7 in 11 starts, with a 6.75 ERA on the year.  After going 0-4, 6.52 in April, Parra rebounded in May–going 3-0 over his first four starts, pitching 6 innings in each start, and only allowing 8 ER’s for a 3.00 ERA.  But then, Parra returned to his April form, going 0-3, 13.50 over his last three starts.

So…the questions are:

  1. Does Macha give Parra another start on Sunday?  If so, is this his last chance before getting sent to the pen?
  2. Or does Macha hand the ball over to Burns to see how he might fare against the Braves?
  3. Or…what about piggybacking?  In other words, manager Ken Macha could reserve both Manny Parra and Mike Burns to start every 5th day…and decide on game day if Parra, a lefty, or Burns, a righty, should pitch the first four innings based on the other team’s line-up, while the other will come in to pitch the 5th through 8th innings?  That might have proven effective Tuesday night, as the right-handed Burns would have a slight advantage over Parra when facing the Marlins’ Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez–both right-handed hitters.  Both would need to be held out of games either the day before their scheduled pitching day, as well as the day after, but both could be used in relief for an inning on the other two days.

Furthermore, Evan Brunell pointed out to me something he found on piggybacking:

Former director of baseball operations and interim general manager for the Cincinnati Reds’, Brad Kullman, says that there have been studies done which “found correlations between heavy workloads in years prior to turning 25 resulting in career-limiting or threatening injuries.” 

With Parra being 26 and Burns being 30, this may not be as applicable…but both are relatively young in their MLB careers, and anything that can stave off an injury is worth adding to the equation.

In all likelihood, Macha will stick with Parra…but wouldn’t a piggyback system be more interesting…and fun?

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