Posted by Steve
Alright, so Yo’s overall numbers this season are still very good. This title is admittedly an overstatement, but I just wanted to see how many times in a row we can conceivably incorporate the word “tarnation” into a post title. Still, the last handful of starts, we’ve seen who I so creatively refer to as “Bad Yo.”
His strikeout rate is still very good, but his walks are higher than I’d like to see. I won’t use any 2008 numbers because he hardly pitched last year, but over 110 innings in 2007 he averaged 3.24 walks per nine innings pitched. This year, he’s at 4.12 BB/9.
The walk rate is just one byproduct of his inability to pitch efficiently as of late. He hasn’t been “struggling” all season, but it’s been over a month since he’s been on top of his game. His first six starts of the season, he averaged 6.94 innings per start, 15.3 pitches per inning and 2.6 BB/9. Those are very good numbers.
Lately, those peripheral numbers have gotten much worse. His last seven games, he’s averaged 5.9 innings per start, 18.1 pitches per inning and 5.66 BB/9. Those numbers are downright bad.
For an average pitcher, those numbers would result in a big jump in ERA. Luckily for Yo, some combination of luck and skill has kept that from happening (to this point). Despite getting into many more jams (mainly from walks), he has frequently pitched his way out of them–largely by using the strikeout. Yesterday’s outing was a microcosm of the problem I’m referring to. He threw a whopping 116 pitches over five innings, allowing six walks over that time. Gross. It’s amazing that he only allowed two runs, but when you see he also struck out eight hitters, you can understand how he’s bailed himself out with the punchout.
Short term, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, because the only stat that matters to the Brewers is how many runs he allows. Long term, this needs to get better.
For one, he’s not going to pitch out of jams forever. If he keeps walking guys at this rate, he’s eventually going to run into some ugly innings in which he gets tagged for three or more runs. Secondly, pitching so inefficiently is preventing him from going deep into games. A team looks to its best starter to pitch deeper into games and save the bullpen. Think Ben Sheets, who averaged 6.4 innings per start and 15.4 pitches per inning all of last season.
The good news is that Yo is very aware that he hasn’t been efficient. Here’s his quote from today’s JS game story:
“The last couple of starts, I’ve had to work very hard,” Gallardo said. “I’d make a good pitch and they would foul it off. The next thing I know, I have five or six pitches to every hitter.
“Every starter, we want to go nine innings. These games are going to happen. I had to fight through it.”
I expect his walk rate to settle back down, but hopefully that happens soon. Yo is the only special starting pitcher the Brewers have (which hopefully won’t be the case in a month–stay tuned for my trade target post OMG TEASER), so they need him at his best.
We want Regular Yo back.
One final thing. You may have noticed the new layout. I finally got rid of the two-line widow (orphan?) title at the top. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I used to hate the way the headline looked, but it was there so long that it kind of grew on me. We were probably the only blog with such an embarrassing-looking title. I could always go back to the old layout, so feel free to leave any feedback.