The San Diego Padres aren't having a great season, although they've been a bit unlucky, but recently a ton of new names joined their team, including young pitchers Wade LeBlanc and Josh Geer. Rather than send one of them into relief work or remove Cha Seung Baek or Shawn Estes the Padres decided to do something different for the next few weeks and are going to a six-man rotation.
Jake Peavy and Chris Young are known commodities that will almost certainly be in the Padres rotation next season barring a blockbuster trade or injury. Limiting both of their workloads during an injury filled and otherwise meaningless season is probably a good idea. Shawn Estes is a free agent at the end of the season and unworthy bringing back. Baek is not a bad option for a back-end spot for the next few seasons as he remains affordable and effective.
LeBlanc is 24 and dominated AAA. A 9.02 K/9 rate was met with a 2.73 BB/9 rate. Historically more of a groundball pitcher than he showed in Portland and within his homerun rate. A scout described him as a "soft-tossing command lefty with a big curve," which should play well at his home park.
Geer is 25 and more of a back of the rotation or relief type pitcher. A former Rice Owl Geer's strikeout rates haven't been too impressive throughout his minor league career (right around five at most stops) but he's more of a groundballer than LeBlanc and should be at least equal to Estes this and next year.
I have reserves about why they released Tomko instead of Estes, although I understand that Tomko was not starting, wouldn't it have been just as easy to convert him back? Of course that implies the Padres would benefit from making that move and for the long term at least, their best interest may be landing Stephen Strasburg.
Also don't be surprised if the Cleveland Indians decide to add a "plus-one" to their rotation this month giving them an outlook of Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona, Jeremy Sowers, Anthony Reyes, Zach Jackson, and Aaron Laffey. This raises a question for me; would certain teams carrying a "sixth" starter in a non-traditional rotation benefit?
For instance, let's say the Indians discover that Jackson kills righties and Laffey kills lefties and put them both on their team next year with one spot dedicated to both in a five man rotation. Upon each turn the team would play the match-ups, if the Rays are in town they're more likely to roll out Laffey for a start, if the Red Sox are around then throw Jackson out there. Now you may be saying that this takes an extra arm from the bullpen, but it really doesn't, team's lineups don't change that drastically over a five to six day span which allows for flexibility in the usage of the non-starting reliever.