Ever since his call-up back in early 2007, Yovani Gallardo has been considered by many to be the ace of the Brewers’ starting rotation, even through the recent additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. I agree with this fact- sort of.
Gallardo has a career 3.63 ERA, which is solid. He’s also a strikeout pitcher, as he has more strikeouts than innings pitched in his career, and has broke the 200-strikeout plateau in all three of his full seasons in the Majors. Both of these things make him sound like an ace, but sometimes I question that.
I’m probably one of the only Brewer fans who thinks this way, but there’s just something that Gallardo seems to be holding back. He has unbelievable stuff, hence the great strikeout numbers. But, someone with stuff of his caliber shouldn’t be consistently over a 3.50 ERA every season. In 2010, I thought he was headed the way of a true ace, because he had an ERA below 3.00 until his injury around the All-Star break of that year. When he returned, his ERA ballooned all the way to 3.84 to finish the season. 3.84 isn’t bad, but compared to where Gallardo was at and how quickly he got to 3.84, it really isn’t very good, either.
The point I’m trying to make is Gallardo’s inconsistency. 2011 was obviously a career year for Gallardo, but, in my opinion, it was the season where his inconsistency showed the most.
Let’s go back to the first week of the season. Gallardo tossed a quality start against the Reds, and then a two-hit shutout against the Braves. From there, I thought he was going to have a stellar season. But, after the shutout, he had a stretch of about five starts in which he gave up at least four to seven runs. After that, his ERA had ballooned to somewhere in the 6.00′s, and I was seriously wanting the Brewers to send him down to the Minors. But then Gallardo proved me wrong, and went on a six-game winning streak. After that streak ended with him getting pummeled by the Mets, he was on and off for the rest of the year. I could point out a few of his good starts, particularly some decent starts against the Astros, Cubs, Marlins, and few others. But I could also name some of his serious hiccups, which included him getting murdered at Coors Field by the Rockies, embarrassed by the Red Sox at Fenway, and destroyed by the rival Cardinals countless times.
So, despite the fact Gallardo finished 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA and got seventh in the Cy Young Award voting, he never really found his groove in 2011, in my opinion (except for that one six-game stretch).
The reason I’m saying this is because I know that Gallardo can be a true ace. He can be as consistent as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, or any other ace in the NL (or AL, for that matter). He just needs to put all the pieces together.
And I have a feeling that next year could be the year that happens. Last year, Justin Verlander of the Tigers finally put everything together and had an unbelievable season. Prior to that, he’d been putting up similar numbers to the ones Gallardo is putting up now- good numbers, but his potential showed so much more. And it finally happened last year. The odds of the same thing happening to Gallardo are slim, but it’s possible.
Regardless of the numbers he puts up next year (unless they’re terrible), Gallardo will probably still be my favorite pitcher, as he’s been the past few years. But I’d love to see him put up a CYA caliber season.