Posted by Steve
So Yovani Gallardo has been terrible this season. Why is that?
In a way, it’s been the same problem that he’s always had when he’s struggled: He is still walking too many hitters. That isn’t the sole source of the problem, though. He’s walking 3.46 guys per 9 innings, but his career mark is 3.77. He’s always managed to be a good pitcher in spite of the high walk numbers.
So what’s the problem?
For one, he has been getting shelled. He’s given up 26 earned runs in his last 26 innings. On the season, he’s allowed 53 hits in 41.1 innings–good for a Suppanesque 11.6 hits per 9 innings. Yo’s career H/9 is 8.3. He’s also giving up a ton of gopher balls. Last year, Gallardo was great at keeping the ball in the park–he only allowed 12 home runs all season. This year, he’s already given up 5.
The biggest and most alarming difference, though, is his strikeout rate. Yo has always been a strikeout pitcher, sometimes to a fault (he’d nibble too much going for the strikeout rather than pitching in the zone). He’s over a strikeout per inning in his career, at 9.1 Ks/9. This season, he’s at 6.5.
Sure, this is all a small sample size, but this is the longest slump of his career. What is the reason for dips in his numbers across the board?
It’s possible that it’s his velocity. Fangraphs hasn’t included last night’s start yet, but before that, his average fastball this season was 91.8 mph. Compare that to 92.6 in 2010 and 92.3 in 2009. That’s not a massive drop though, and I don’t have the splits for last season (for example, he may have taken a while to get his velocity up last season too). A lack of velocity could explain some of the strikeout drop-off.
One thing that’s definitely apparent is he’s struggling big time with his command. He falls behind way, way too many hitters lately. Any pitcher will get rocked when he’s consistently behind in the count. Of course, some of those hits can be attributed to the Brewers’ awful defense. The Brewers managed to turn a couple outs into hits in that nightmare sixth inning last night.
It’s still a small sample size, but coupled with a poor end to last season, there is reason to at least be a bit concerned. I’ll be keeping an eye on that velocity and hoping he can start getting first-pitch strikes.
One final thing that has nothing to do with Yo, but wasn’t enough to warrant its own post:
Bill Schroeder called Alex Gonzalez a tough out tonight. He has a .272 on-base percentage this season and a .293 OBP in his career.