The Milwaukee Brewers pitcher who started on Opening Day for several years is now going to transition into a relief role for 2018.
Yovani Gallardo, once the proud and successful ace of the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff, is reportedly headed to the bullpen. There was a lot of hope for the 32 year old to start, but the big time emergence of Wade Miley killed that hope, for now. Though nothing is permanent at this point.
Over the course of his career, Gallardo has thrown in 298 games with a grand total of nine relief appearances. Three were when he first came up with the Brewers, and six last season in Seattle. No assumptions can be made through his 25 innings of work out of the bullpen, but it is still worth noting that he historically looks pretty good in relief.
It has been 25 innings, and Gallardo has faced a total of 99 batters out of the bullpen. So long term, this is in no way a guarantee he will perform. But, his 2.13 ERA with 18 strikeouts is certainly a good start. His career FIP in relief is a solid 2.83. And this might not be permanent, but with the majority of these appearances coming last season, that could make the transition easier.
In 16 relief innings last season, Gallardo held opposing hitters to a .164 average while giving up three runs. Because of his starting history, the former Milwaukee Brewers ace will be able to go multiple innings. Likely, it would be a long relief role that the team has in mind.
No More Rotation
With a 6.75 ERA through Spring Training thus far, it would be hard to see him getting a rotation slot anyway. Brent Suter is essentially a lock, and has been for much of camp thus far. What no one expected is the emergence of Wade Miley. His play, plus pitching prospect Brandon Woodruff, make Gallardo a starting afterthought.
If the Milwaukee Brewers opt to release Gallardo, they will only have to pay a quarter of his base salary. So there is not a whole lot of penalty to do so. Or they could just send him to the minors. Succeeding in a relief role is his best chance to see Miller Park this season.
Why This Makes Sense
Frankly, it will let Gallardo go max effort for a shorter period of time. Part of his struggles after leaving Milwaukee was injuries that lowered his velocity. But the velocity is back enough to where being able to put more effort in give him the better shot.
Unfortunately, cuts are coming. As the end of camp nears, the team is going to want to see the guys that have a shot at making the Opening Day roster. If Gallardo is going to be one of those players, he will have to prove himself quickly as a reliever.
This was a low cost signing with upside from the beginning, and the upside did not show itself. It is likely that Gallardo will be sent down to the minors, not cut. If the Milwaukee Brewers want to see him in a bullpen role, he will have the chance to prove himself in it beyond just the one or two appearances he is likely to get to close out Spring Training. Overall, this is a good move by the organization.