Ron Roenicke and his Milwaukee Brewers will hand the ball to right-hander Yovani Gallardo on Opening Day. It will be his second-consecutive Opening Day start, and he will attempt to exorcise the demons and put together an elusive solid outing against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gallardo has historically struggled against the Cardinals. Throughout his eleven career starts against the Brewers’ division rival, the 26-year-old owns a 5.66 ERA and has surrendered 13 home runs. That is five more home runs than he has given up to any other team in Major League Baseball.
As should be expected, Yovani Gallardo has given up more home runs to various NL Central teams than any other opposing team. The Brewers square off against the NL Central more often than other divisions — and more innings pitched generally equates to more home runs given up due to sheer probability — but the disparity between the Cardinals and the remainder of the NL Central gives one pause.
The 2012 Cardinals may be without Albert Pujols, but they will not lack home run power in their lineup. Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Lance Berkman will anchor the middle of the lineup and should all have a chance at 20+ home runs, if healthy. Gallardo will still be forced to navigate the Cardinals’ batting order with care and not dig himself into situations, in which he falls behind the count and is forced to come into the strike zone with a fastball. His fastball is good, but very few big league pitchers can throw a fastball by opposing hitters when they know it’s coming.
Here are the past five starts for Gallardo against the Cardinals:
05/07/11 – 8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
08/11/11 – 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 3 K
09/01/11 – 4.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
09/06/11 – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
10/12/11 – 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 2 K
Past struggles against a particular team certainly do not guarantee future struggles, but it appears the Cardinals have had his number throughout his career, especially in recent starts. His 2.15 K/BB ratio against them is also well below his average mark.
The Brewers hope Yovani Gallardo can reverse the negative trend and deliver a solid outing against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon. A win would mark the first victory for the Brewers on Opening Day since the 4-3 win in 2009 against the Chicago Cubs, in which Braden Looper pitched five innings of one-run baseball and Corey Hart hit the lone Brewers home run.