Long before the season ends, club staff are busy planning for next season. Those players that are leaving for whatever reason(s), those players that are options (amateur options are explained later), acquired players from other teams and even leagues, and rookies are all in consideration.
The most important thing to use as a foundation is what you now know. Who is returning, coupled with who is on the card now that shows promise, and what do you expect in pitch dependability - quantity and quality overall. In all this - be reasonable and honest with yourself.
In the highly competitive leagues, you should plan on at least 11 pitchers at a minimum. If not, you’ll be shuffling your pitching staff with a roll of the dice, game after game with very little to show for it. In addition, you’ll subject one or two pitchers to carrying the load and that subordinates good coaching to pressures from others shoveling all kinds of the blame-game.
So, if you don’t have the expected norm to manage a pitching staff of 11 pitchers for you next season - find a new spot to coach. In doing so, you’ll avoid all kinds of pressure, misplaced trust in managing your amateur staff, and a downhill slide that’ll go on forever.
Your returning pitchers are your benchmark for everything that follows. They are a known quantity because of the quality of ball that attracted them, the population pool that is either dictated by league rules, jurisdiction protocols and so forth. These pitchers have a pitch inventory that you are familiar with and can manage without retraining yourself and your backstops. The magic number that you’re looking at is 5 returning pitchers at a minimum. So plan for ending your current season with at least 2 returning starters, 2 returning relievers and 1 prospects with promise. Now you can mix and match as you see fit - but, 5 returning pitchers is the magic number.
Accounting for 7 additional pitchers is a composite of transfers from other organizations, and walk-ons. Here is your opportunity to see what’s coming up and feeding the pipeline. I would suggest being very cautious of scouting players for the purpose of attracting said players. Many leagues and associations have strict rules and guidelines on the matter.
So of the 7, you’ll want to mirror the season just finishing. You’re pitching staff has a stat record that should have proven itself as well as given you a comfort zone of being a known, a given. Start by asking yourself these questions:
What am I looking for that compliments the starters, relievers, and prospects that I’ve worked with now?
Do you want to take a position player and make a pitcher of that individual? Do you have the time to do it right?
Think all the time of starting your new season with a “look see” of who can do what against your deepest competition.
Finally, if you must take a pitcher because you’re told to, don’t try and plan and play around that game. It’s politics, plain and simple, and you do the best you can.
Another suggestion to wrap this posting up - don’t go with a pitching staff with all fastballs. After the second, going into the third inning, the opposing batting order has seen just about everything - fastball after fastball. So, plan for and organize a pitching staff that can mix things up, regardless of how good some of that mix is. Also, and as cruel as this may sound, you’ll want at least 3 sacrificial pitchers that you can send in when things are going south. These pitchers must be told at the outset why and for what reasons they’re being selected for this role. I’ve used rookie prospects as a way of saying… " welcome to the big game fella…" Some even surprised the heck out of me and held their own nicely … then they got lit up…
Got suggestions, comments, remarks… give it up.
**** Option players are usually transfers from other organizations, institutions, leagues and even affiliations. Player relocation, league and organization closures, even league and organization player waivers come under this heading. In any event, when a player wants to play outside of their normal jurisdiction, some sort of waiver or approval follows. Coaches can add quality to their pitching staff by keeping in tune with such procedures, and when.