No starters. No relievers. Well, technically someone has to "start" the game. And technically pitchers would have to come into the game in "relief." These aren't the terms in which I like to think when it comes to pitching. I like terms like outs and innings pitched (yeah, that's a phrase).
Here's the concept: The pitching staff would still have 12 members, which is the most common number to have in MLB. Every pitcher would pitch 3 innings every 4th game.
Craziness, I know.
Extra innings? Only happens like 16 times a year. Stretch somebody an extra inning or two. Bump somebody up a day. It will be fine.
The point of the craziness? Here's 8.
1. Opposing hitters do better against pitchers the more times they see them in a game. The narrative that a pitcher settles in as he goes is a false one. It's a statistical fact.
2. Opposing teams will have a harder time setting up an ideal lineup against your "starter."
3. Pitchers can really let it fly and use all of their pitches. No need to conserve energy or pitches. If they are on, they'd only see most (if not all) of the hitters once.
4. Innings load would be kept low. Not taking extra innings games into account, pitchers would average 121.5 innings.
5. Pitchers would know exactly when they are pitching. I've heard they like that.
6. No more pitching changes mid inning. Pace of play!
7. Pitcher ABs will be reduced. The home team "starter" will occasionally finish his 3 IP before his turn in the lineup.
8. $$$ Basically, every pitcher's goal is 3 IP and 1 run allowed. Pitchers that can do that once every 4th game are much cheaper than 200 IP workhorses.
Will this ever happen? Maybe not (Colorado?). It's not as crazy as it sounds though. Imagine if it was flipped. What if it was the baseball norm to have 12 pitchers with an equal share of innings and then someone suggested, "Hey, we should take 5 of the pitchers and give them the bulk of the innings and then let one of the other 7 come in if one of the 5 starts not doing so hot."