There is one overriding trait that a given baseballing squadron looks for when filling the middle of its rotation: an ability to pitch a bunch of innings. These pitchers aren’t going to have the world’s best stuff (if they did, they wouldn’t be a #3 or #4 starter!), but they know how to get enough hitters out to stay in the game. They’re not hung up on their stats, focus on getting outs however they can. Strikeouts are nice, but pitching to contact works, too. Their K rates aren’t outstanding, but neither are their walk rates. They aren’t flashy, but they get the job done, and keep the bullpen fresh.
In the annals of the American presidency, two men stand out as ideal innings-eaters. They have a lot in common: both came to politics reluctantly, after careers in the military, neither were particularly brilliant thinkers, but both possessed a methodical determination that proved too much for their opponents to withstand.
First we have our #3 starter:
Ulysses S. Grant, Starting Pitcher
Unconditional Surrender Grant is the ultimate innings-eater of American history. He beat the Confederacy not with strategic genius, but through the determined leveraging of superior resources. It’s the same way he carried out Reconstruction. Nothing fancy, just sending lots of bluecoats to the South with the power to lock up any white-hooded asshole who looked at them funny. This is the kind of man you need to give you 250 or so innings with an ERA around 4.25.
Holding down that #4 spot, we have…
Dwight Eisenhower, Starting Pitcher
Talk about an innings-eater! Dwight Eisenhower approached liberating Europe and governing post-war America with the same plodding earnestness of a Midwestern insurance adjuster. He might not have had a flashy approach, but you can’t argue with the results: V-E Day and the Interstate Highway System (also, the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala and Mosadegh in Iran, but HEY! that’s why he’s the 4th starter!).
Grant’s Comparable players: Bartolo Colon, Livan Hernandez
Eisenhower’s Comparable players: Bronson Arroyo, Roy Oswalt