Once Yovani Gallardo passes a physical he will officially be a part of the Milwaukee Brewers once again.
The odds are he will find himself in the starting rotation, at least to start the year. Back in his days with the Milwaukee Brewers, Gallardo generally served as the ace of that staff he will once again be joining.
Since his departure from the Brewers, his numbers are not pretty. But, now that he is back where he started, things will hopefully improve. At almost 32 years old Gallardo is hoping to regain some of that lighting he once had.
That does not necessarily mean he is a flame thrower, however his velocity is back in the 90’s. It dropped below that for only a year in 2016. With his velocity back up, he will look to figure out exactly what is different between his success in Milwaukee and the lack thereof in other seasons afterward.
What is Different?
After leaving the Milwaukee Brewers, Gallardo played in nothing but the American League. Whether that be the reason for the changes to his approach or not may never be known. The stats show that there is a different approach since leaving the Crew.
Fangraphs is a great place to see this. Year in and year out Gallardo throws his fastball at the same rate, around 55 percent, year in and year out. It is his secondary pitches that changed. He began to use his slider and changeup more, while dropping the use of the curveball from 20 percent or more down to around 10. In 2017 he brought that number back up around 20, but in doing so he dropped his fastball use by five percent.
What Did That Do?
A lot of people have a lot of different philosophies on approach. What ended up happening as a result of a greater slider and changeup use increasing is that he gave up more soft contact. His numbers for the Milwaukee Brewers, in general, were low to mid teens with only a couple exceptions. After he left, the numbers rose to upper teens, nearing 20 percent. That is a good thing.
With the raise of the soft contact naturally came with a rise in his hard contact. It is that simple. He went from throwing breaking balls that cause whiffs to trying to get hitters off balance with changeups. In the eight seasons he spent in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform, he had only one season with a K/9 under seven. That number was 6.83 in 2014. He’s never reached that number again.
What to Do
This one seems obvious. If Gallardo can become a strikeout pitcher again, the theory is that his numbers will improve. The aging pitcher may never reach the heights he was once at, but he can be serviceable. That is all the Brewers can ask.
Signing Gallardo has the potential to be one of the smartest moves made this offseason. If he can avoid being a ghost of who he once was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, then GM David Stearns looks like the genius he is.
It all comes down to the performance in 2018. General consensus says that Gallardo will be mediocre at best. However, it is not crazy to believe he can perform for his most successful organization.