My apologies if you’re reading this at work and you have some aversion to the start of the week. Personally, Monday’s this winter have offered a clean multiplicative of seven to count down to Opening Day. Monday, April 1st is exactly seven weeks away. It’s so close and yet so far. Luckily we also have a major off-season milestone to reach when we’ll get to scream the three greatest words of the winter tomorrow: “Pitchers and Catchers!”
This remains, however, a countdown to Opening Day and for those of you out there who haven’t mastered your multiplication tables yet, seven days in a week times seven weeks to go equals 49 days.
And in honor of Brewers great Teddy Higuera, the man who has worn #49 since his debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 is today’s subject. Of course that man is…
As the resident staff ace, Gallardo has had several top flight running partners over the years. From Ben Sheets to (briefly) CC Sabathia to Zack Greinke, there has often been someone who was arguably the better pitcher. This is not the case in 2013 as for the first time in years, the Brewers’ Opening Day starting pitcher has already been confirmed by the manager before we’ve even gotten to Spring Training.
Gallardo is coming off of consecutive seasons with 33 starts, over 200 innings pitched, over 200 strikeouts, sub-3.70 ERAs, and identical ERA+ values of 112. The Mexican native has won a total of 33 games between the last two years while losing 19. In fact, and the major reason I mention all of this symmetry between seasons is that the biggest difference in seasons for Yovani Gallardo over the past two years was that his walks jumped.
After posting a career-best 2.6 BB/9 in 2011 with just 59 in 207.1 innings pitched, Gallardo saw his total jump to 81 last season in 204.0 IP resulting in a 3.6 BB/9 ratio. The overall results didn’t suffer as greatly as they could have but it’s certainly a trend that all of us would like to see reverse itself back down in 2013. Too often it felt like Gallardo labored when he otherwise wouldn’t have had to due to inefficiency and walks.
Sure, Gallardo only had six starts where he didn’t pitch at least 6.0 full innings, but did you also realize that he had 11 more of exactly 6.0 innings pitched? Gallardo’s deepest start in terms of out recorded was a 7.2 IP effort on August 12th against his favorite opponent the Houston Astros. To take the next step in his career, Gallardo simply must increase his efficiency and get deeper into games more often than he has averaged doing to this point.
As another example, given all of those innings pitched totals, Gallardo only threw under 100 pitches in an outing five times in 2012. And two of those outings were against his nemesis St. Louis Cardinals where he didn’t make it out of the fourth in one and not out of the third in the other. The other three starts were pitch totals of 97, 98, and 99 respectively.
Look, I’m not saying that Gallardo needs to spin off complete games every other start, but getting into the 8th more than once in a season isn’t too much to ask for a pitcher of Gallardo’s talent.
Oh, and with all of these full-season numbers I’m referencing about 2012, they of course include those aforementioned starts against St. Louis. The full season is the full season. Does Gallardo’s ERA drop to 3.13 from 3.66 if you take them out? Yes, but they happened and that’s that.
Gallardo did finish the year healthy, if on a poor note against Houston when he picked up his final loss of the year.
Looking ahead to 2013, after reporting to Spring Training officially tomorrow, Gallardo will leave camp after a couple of short weeks. He will be participating as a starting pitcher for Team Mexico in the third edition of the World Baseball Classic. While he has had to get himself game-ready a bit sooner than before, the innings he’ll pitch with Team Mexico won’t be incredibly out of line with where he’d have been anyway if he would be in Brewers camp the entire time.
Whenever Team Mexico’s run in the WBC comes to end, Gallardo will resume his position atop the Brewers rotation and line up to pitch seven weeks from today when Miller Park opens its doors, likely closes its roof, and features a regular season game between the Brewers and the visiting Colorado Rockies. Gallardo saw the Rockies once in 2012, on my son’s birthday. Gallardo was very good that day, twirling 7.0 full innings of one run ball, striking out eight. Brewers fans and players alike would certainly take a repeat performance out of Gallardo. As for the rest of the team that only scored one run and gave up three more to hand Gallardo a no-decision and the club a loss? A different outcome would be readily welcomed.
Yup. Seven weeks. I can’ t wait. But, alas, wait we must. Tomorrow brings Pitchers and Catchers. Wednesday brings the first official, organized workout. In a few days, the rest of the team officially reports. Then games start. And eventually the team comes north for a pair of exhibition games against the White Sox, but it all leads up to the day seven weeks hence.
Make no mistake about it. On Opening Day the Brewers need Gallardo to set the tone for the season. He’ll be out front of an inexperienced group, expected to set the example and fulfill the role of number one starter. Say what you want about rankings and comparisons overall in baseball, but Gallardo is the number one on this squad and he needs to pitch like it.
Do that, young pitcher who will finally be just 27 years young and entering his prime when the season begins, and the NL Central could have another contender for that division championship.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #51 Michael Gonzalez
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Josh Stinson
- #57 Khris Davis
- #58 Josh Prince
- #59 John Axford
- #60 Wily Peralta
- #61 Darren Byrd
- #63 Tyler Thornburg
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Miguel De Los Santos
- #67 Santo Manzanillo
- #68 Jesus Sanchez
- #70 Nick Bucci
- #71 Johnny Hellweg
- #73 Ariel Peña
- #74 Michael Olmsted
- #75 Travis Webb
- #77 Jed Bradley
- #78 Taylor Jungmann
- BONUS ARTICLE: #91-94 Adam Weisenberger, Hunter Morris, Kentrail Davis, Rafael Neda