by Art Morath
on June 18, 2007 @ 16:00:00
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo is scheduled to make his first major league start on June 18 at home against the San Francisco Giants. The 21-year-old Gallardo is the Brewers' top pitching prospect, and he was called up from Triple-A on June 14. He will be taking Chris Capuano's (groin) spot in the rotation because Capuano is on the DL with a strained left groin. Capuano hurt himself warming up for his start on June 13 and never appeared in the game. Reliever Carlos Villanueva was called on to start that game. Afterwards the Brewers put Capuano on the DL retroactive to June 9.
Gallardo is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-hander born in Mexico. He was a second-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Fort Worth, Texas. Gallardo has put up impressive numbers for Triple-A Nashville this season. He has an 8-3 record to go along with an ERA of 2.90 and a WHIP on 1.04. In his 13 starts he has struck out 110, which is an average of 8.5 strikeouts per game. At the time of his call-up he was leading all of minor league baseball in strikeouts, which he also did last year when he split time between Single-A and Double-A. Gallardo utilizes four pitches including a low-90s fastball. He features three effective off-speed pitches. The most notable is his curveball, but he also has a change-up and slider in his arsenal. He will also change his arm angles to keep hitters off balance.
It's unlikely for top prospects to arrive on the major league scene and have immediate success for fantasy owners. Twenty-three-year-old Tim Lincecum, aka the Franchise, has made eight starts since being called up in May, and he is sporting a 2-1 record with a 5.25 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Twenty-one-year-old Homer Bailey has made two starts for the Reds since he was called up this month, and he is 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. Gallardo is unlikely to be able to duplicate his numbers from Triple-A. There is a steep learning curve for getting hitters out at the major league level. Gallardo has something working in his favor that Lincecum and Bailey did not - control. He allowed just 28 walks in 77 2/3 innings at Triple-A. Gallardo's strikeout potential alone makes him a worthwhile start, even in mixed leagues. However, he is already owned in 75 percent of leagues polled. So you can see the amount of hype he has gotten.
Down the road Gallardo is projected as a No. 1 starter, but that may be a couple years away. Gallardo has little injury history, which bodes well for his development. The question is whether he will earn more starts once Capuano comes back from injury. Capuano is expected to be out until early July, which means Gallardo will probably get at least three starts before Capuano returns. If Gallardo were to replace someone else in the rotation, the most likely candidate would be Dave Bush. Bush is 4-6 with an ERA of 5.48 this season, although he has been pitching better recently. Another possibility is that Claudio Vargas will be moved to the bullpen, and then Gallardo would take his slot in the rotation. There is the possibility that Gallardo will be moved to the bullpen, which would certainly diminish his fantasy value. However, if he lives up to expectations the Brewers will find room for him as a starter this year.
About Art Morath
Art Morath has been a contributor to KFFL since 2007.
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