Yovani Gallardo just might be the most overrated player in Milwaukee Brewers history. It befuddles me when people label him as one of the best pitchers in the game. You’re lost at sea if you think that.
Gallardo is not an “ace”. He’s not a stud pitcher and should never, ever be associated with Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw. He is more of a lower-tier “king” who is more than capable of pitching like a top-tier pitcher and has done so on occasion. However, that does not make him a true ace, and I’d even argue that Gallardo hasn’t been the team’s ace since 2010.
Before I go any further, we must discuss what the definition of an ace is. To me, an ace is someone who has a great chance of absolutely shutting down opponents night in and night out. An ace is a player can throw a complete game with no problem and who makes batters look silly on a consistent basis. An ace is the pitcher in which you have the utmost faith in the most crucial of situations. Gallardo does not fit the criteria.
Don’t agree with me? Well, let’s take a closer look at the numbers.
The 27-year-old owns a record of 69-44 and, while that is more than respectable, his ERA (3.69) looks more like an ERA of a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Gallardo is a six-inning pitcher. Rarely does he go beyond that, and there are a couple of factors that contribute to this. One reason is that Ron Roenicke is overly obsessed with pitch counts and almost never lets his pitcher finish a ball game. Since Roenicke took the reins in 2011, the Brewers rank last in complete games with only one (Gallardo in 2011). But the biggest factor as to why Gallardo doesn’t go deep into games is because he gets himself into deep counts with almost every batter he faces. He doesn’t have that “out” pitch that top-of-the-rotation hurlers have. He turns to his curveball when he’s ahead in the count but he can rarely throw that for a strike. By the fifth or sixth inning, his pitch count is in the upper-90’s leaving Roenicke no choice but to pull him. Take yesterday, for example. Gallardo pitched extremely well, limiting the the San Francisco Giants to one run on five hits. Yet he only lasted six innings because his pitch count was already at 92.
In his six major league seasons, Gallardo has four complete games. Let’s compare that to the other star pitchers around the league. Verlander (eight seasons) has accumulated 20 complete games including six last season alone. Kershaw (five seasons) has thrown nine complete games and CC Sabathia (12 seasons) has 35 complete games on his resume.
I think it’s fair to say that Gallardo is not on the same level as these guys.
Before his outing yesterday, 2013 had not been kind to Gallardo. In his first three starts, he had an ERA of 6.61 and his WHIP was 1.78 (7th-worst in the majors). Opponents swing and miss at Gallardo’s pitches only 4.6% of the time (4th-worst). His strikeout pitch is not in existence and batters are squaring up on his pitches more than ever. Batters are hitting an astonishing .361 versus Gallardo. That’s not exactly what you want out of your go-to starter.
While you don’t have to be a flamethrower to be considered one of baseball’s best (see Greg Maddux), it sure does help. Gallardo can blow it by the best of them but his fastball velocity (92.2 MPH) is not anything noteworthy. His low-90’s fastball makes hitting his location even more pertinent. If he leaves it up, see ya later.
Gallardo might be called Milwaukee’s ace but you must take that with a grain of salt. He has the tools to become a Cy Young candidate but taking those tools and building something is a different story. Gallardo would greatly benefit from a pitching coach not named Rick Kranitz and a manager who isn’t so worried about pitch counts.
Yovani Gallardo is a very good pitcher but is more suited as a No. 2 starter. He will rack up double-digit wins yet again this season, but calling him an ace is like calling Jeff Suppan a future Hall of Famer; it just doesn’t make any sense.