The one task that lies ahead for the Milwaukee Brewers, while not in the immediate future, is what to do with Yovani Gallardo. Obviously, the logical first choice would be to extend him once his contract runs out after the 2014 season.
Clearly Gallardo has been a constant cog for this rotation, but in the eyes of the MLB, he’s never been slated as a true “ace”. With a career ERA of 3.63, we can see that Gallardo is an ace inside the NL Central, but in the entirety of the MLB, he’s a great pitcher, but not quite an ace yet. Despite that though, he’s been a fan favorite and is someone who definitely needs to stay in the rotation.
What Gallardo brings to this rotation is an arm that despite the blunders here and there, has building veteran status inside this Milwaukee team. 2013 is a rather great example of that as Gallardo is the only pitcher aside from Chris Narveson that has multi-year experience in the rotation. Gallardo’s leadership as the rotation ace is something that guys like Marco Estrada (the really only confirmed other starter) can learn from.
Now, how much and for how long does Gallardo warrant an extension? Well, after the 2014 season, we’ll have a 28, going on 29-year old Gallardo who I still imagine will be at the front of the rotation. If his 2013 plays out like the projectionist Bill James says it will, then his 2014 should be somewhere in the same area. Let’s a take look at his 2012 and James’ projection for 2013:
- 2012: 16-9, 3.66 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 204 innings pitched, 204 K’s, .237 opponent’s batting average
- James’ 2013: 13-10, 3.59 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 208 innings pitched 189 K’s, .238 opponent’s batting average
Now clearly, Gallardo’s 2012 looks a bit stronger, but with certain stats, the predicted 2013 has a slight edge. When we take into account the fact that Gallardo has struggled in his career against particular teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, it will bloat his numbers a little bit. If we factor those teams out, then Gallardo has numbers closer to that of your more so “elite” (and I hate that term) pitchers. However, Gallardo’s struggles are there and it’s something he has overall worked well with.
The one stat that sticks out more than anything is his declining strikeout percentage since 2009:
- 2009: 25.7%
- 2010: 24.9%
- 2011: 23.9%
- 2012: 23.7%
While this may not say a whole lot in the long run, it’s still something that should raise a few eyebrows. Gallardo’s reliance on the strikeout has been falling victim to his rise of reliance on the ground ball: 43% in 2010, 46.6% in 2011, 47.7% in 2012. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, but it does explain the drastic change in his FIP (fielder independent pitching ) rating of 3.02 in 2010 to 3.59 in 2011 and finally to 3.94 in 2012. FIP helps measure the factors that a pitcher can control, such as strikeouts and walks.
With this, we know that Gallardo overall is still a very good pitcher, but what type of extension is possible from the Brewers? Are Doug Melvin’s previous refusals this off season of signing pitchers for more than three years going to in some way, shape or from effect Gallardo? I’d hate to say so considering this rotation would be pretty lost without him. Yes, Gallardo has seen a rise and decline in certain areas, but it doesn’t drag him down as a pitcher overall.
When 2014 is finished, Gallardo isn’t going to be the only Brewer free-agent. Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez and Martin Maldonado will all be free-agents alongside Gallardo and not to mention Norichika Aoki and Brandon Kintzler will be arbitration eligible after the 2014 season. Something tells me though Gallardo is going to be at the top of this list no matter what and for good reasoning too. Will he see a five-year extension? Doubtful, but a three-year with a possible fourth added on isn’t such a bad idea for someone who will be in the latter part of their 20′s. Gallardo is someone that deserves an extension, but obviously at the right price.