GARY | This season's well-timed evening rains have thrown off the timing of the RailCats pitching staff.
The rotation is slated to weather through is fifth doubleheader Tuesday when rain in Wichita earlier this week washed out two days of games. The RailCats and Wingnuts will make up Thursday's game as part of a seven-inning double-header starting at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday.
What it means for the RailCats four-man rotation is a spot starter.
Since its the second double-header in a week, it means even more to upset the cart of the pitching schedule.
"The four-man (rotation) works in a lot of ways, the one way it doesn't work is when you have a makeup game," manager Greg Tagert said. "Then it kills you."
By next week, the RailCats will have played in five doubleheaders this season, more than in any other season. The previous most was three DHs in a single season (2004, 2006 and 2009). Tuesday's games will be just the second double header at U.S. Steel Yard this season, the other three have been played on the road. One was a scheduled day-night double header.
In the American Association, when a game is made up as part of a double header, both games are played to seven innings in regulation.
"I love the double header when it's a traditional double header, but these seven-inning games and these rain outs need to be something that the league addresses," Tagert said. "I think in the future if everybody knew the games were going to be nine innings, which they should be, they wouldn't be called so quickly.
"Any time you start talking about seven-inning games and the competitive balance, you're playing less innings. For some teams that are deeper and deep in the bullpens and are good at playing nine innings, it hurts you. Plus, let's face it, a seven-inning game is an amateur-length game."
On Wednesday, the RailCats used two starters and three relievers through two games, a 2-1 loss to Wichita and a 10-5 win against the Wingnuts. The extra day off Thursday gave the bullpen a chance to rest, but pushed Billy Spottiswood's scheduled start to today.
"Now if you go to a spot starter, either on Tuesday or Friday, which we'll have to use because we're not going to start somebody on two days rest, it does hurt," Tagert said. "This is professional baseball. These games are supposed to be played and it's not always going to be in the best conditions or not always going to be in the best circumstances, but the games should all be played, for all intents and purposes, whenever they can on the day they're scheduled."