Earl Weaver believed in the four man rotation because, "It's easier to find four starting pitchers than five." The Reds can’t say for sure they have more than two. But, short of Bob Boone coming back, this won’t happen…and I’m not for Bob Boone coming back in any form.
Going with a four-man rotation would be a big gamble, but so is going with Harang, Arroyo, and praying for three days of rain. Why try to shove a square Affeldt into a round rotation hole? If you have only two sure starters, one pretty sure starter, and two question marks, shouldn't it be worth a consideration to explore unconventional wisdom if it means putting more competent players on the field every game?
Ray Jazayerli wrote three articles back in '02 in which he made a pretty good argument for the four man rotation.
There is a third article but I can't find it.
There is little evidence four man rotations lead to arm injury. In fact, Leo Mazzone felt the opposite was true, but he couldn't get the Braves to travel the less conventional path. Instead, he had his starters throw twice instead of once between starts. Also, Mazzone, Jazayerli, Weaver and others feel that the four man rotation keeps the pitchers sharper and more effective.
Why shouldn't the Reds try it? It would improve the quality of the rotation, improve the quality of the bullpen, and improve the offense to a degree. Plus, number five starters are usually either very under-qualified and/or terribly over-paid.
If the Reds went with Harang, Arroyo, Belisle, and Volquez as starters, they could develop Bailey and Cueto in long relief as Earl Weaver did in the 1970's. I’m not talking about today's model of middle relief in which the reliever pitches an inning and throws one or maybe two different pitches. I'm talking about three or more innings, facing the order more than once and developing secondary pitches. I'm talking about the old Earl Weaver model.
So, you have Cordero closing, Bailey and Cueto developing/long relief, and you have Affeldt, Burton, and Weathers in the bullpen. That is an old fashioned ten man pitching staff. That leaves two additional roster spots that will either improve late inning defense and/or late inning offense.
"...I hope, which is that if innovation was a pointless exercise, everyone would simply give up on innovation.
But that's not the way to get ahead. The way to get ahead isn't to do what everybody else is doing, unless you've got the resources to do what everybody else is doing, but do them better."-Rob Neyer on using the four man rotation.