Yovani Gallardo: The Next Man Up

by Matthew Roberts | Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015
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The Texas Rangers announced today that Yovani Gallardo will start Opening Day against the Oakland A’s on April 6th.

This news had been percolating since Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month and Derek Holland dealt with some shoulder soreness earlier in camp and has only just now begun to stretch out. Dating back to Gallardo’s playing days with the Milwaukee Brewers this is his sixth straight opening day start, while it is also the sixth different pitcher to start Opening Day for the Rangers. The previous five: Tanner Scheppers, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Scott Feldman.

Given that list, Rangers’ fans should not be THAT upset that Gallardo is drawing the Opening Day start for the Rangers this year. After all, Gallardo enjoyed significant success last year posting a 3.51 ERA and a 146:54 K:BB ration over 192.1 IP as he remade himself from a power pitcher into a control and contact pitcher. While the idea of “control and contact” sounds dangerous in a hitter’s park like Globe Life Park, it was not too long ago that Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux strongly emphasized this type of pitching and GM Jon Daniels built a defense to support it.

Working against Gallardo is of course the AL/NL lineup bias. We all know about the difference between the DH and pitcher positions hitter for their respective leagues, but Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated pointed out that the disparity between the AL’s and NL’s 8th hitters is the dirty little secret that further protects and boosts and NL pitcher’s statline. According to Verducci, the NL’s 1 through 7 hitters fare a tick better in certain stats like OBP and OPS depending on the hitter number than their counterparts in the AL. But the AL’s 8th hitter was significantly better than the NL’s 8th hitter last year including a whopping .055 disparity in OPS and a difference of 60 home runs hit from that spot. With the NL’s 8th and 9th hitters doing so poorly compared to the AL’s 8th and 9th hitters, the NL pitcher enjoys several more quiet at bats and innings than the AL pitcher.

This will be Gallardo’s biggest test. Pitching to contact and surviving the entire lineup, not just the 1 through 7 hitters. I’m hopeful he survives and thrives as other pitch to contact pitchers have in recent years in Texas. I certainly hope he doesn’t follow the path of his former rotation mate, Matt Garza, who came to Texas from Milwaukee in a midseason deal in 2013 and proceeded to post an ERA (4.38) and WHIP (1.31) well above career averages.

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Matthew Roberts
About the Author

Matthew cut his teeth on baseball during $2 Bleacher Wednesdays at the old Arlington Stadium in the 1980's and has loved the Texas Rangers ever since. When he's not teaching his young son to throw a wicked circle change, he enjoys the six month friendly rivalry with his wife and her precious Oakland A's. Follow him on Twitter @ifithasballs.

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