Right-hander Yovani Gallardo threw one of his most bizarre outings of the year. He only allowed two hits and struck out six batters through six innings, but also walked six and allowed two runs. It took him 27 pitches to navigate through the first inning, and he was one ball away from walking three-consecutive hitters in his 23-pitch third inning.
Lofty pitch counts are nothing new for Gallardo. Only seven of his thirty-three starts last season featured fewer than 100 pitches, and only one of those starts went for longer than five innings (a 97-pitch gem against the New York Mets, in which he surrendered two runs through seven innings).
The high pitch counts are directly caused by his inability to command the strike zone effectively. Coming into Monday evening’s game against the Mets, he had the fewest percentage of first-pitch strikes amongst qualified starting pitchers in all of baseball.
The low percentage of first-pitch strikes has immediately put Gallardo behind in the count against more than half of the opposing batters he has faced throughout the course of the season. That proved to be a common theme again on Monday. Gallardo faced 26 batters, and he only started off the at-bats with strike one 42.3% of the time.
It’s not surprising he walked six hitters and labored through six innings with 109 pitches.
Gallardo also throws a myriad of pitches due to the fact that opposing hitters understand that he does not throw strikes very often. Coming into Monday’s game, opposing batters were only swinging 39.4% of the time. That is yet again the third-lowest mark in all of baseball of qualified starting pitchers. Not only is Gallardo not starting off at-bats with strike one, but opposing hitters have also discovered that the best way to defeat Gallardo is to simply not swing.
Consider this. Of the 109 pitches that Gallardo threw on Monday against the New York Mets, opposing batters only swung and missed three times, yet he struck out six batters. Granted, two of those strikeouts came against the opposing pitcher on foul bunts and should be digested with a grain of salt.
The recipe to solve the Gallardo Riddle on the mound has been patience. Loads of patience from the opposing teams. Gallardo must adjust by throwing more strikes early in the count, which will allow him to get to his curveball in better situations to generate whiffs and limit his pitch counts. This is not saying Gallardo should pitch to contact. This is simply saying that he should work more aggressively in the zone more often to put himself in better position for more efficient punch-outs.
JED BRADLEY INJURED
On Monday, the Manatees’ Twitter feed announced that left-handed pitcher Jed Bradley left the game after only 3.1 innings of work with a groin injury. Bradley struggled with a groin injury throughout the offseason and into early spring training, so his early exit raised significant red flags once the early reports surfaced that it was his groin yet again.
I briefly spoke with Bradley on Monday evening, however, and he says it appears to be nothing more than a minor groin strain. He did not seem overly concerned with the prospect of returning to action in quick order.
It appears the Bradley and the Brewers dodged a bullet in what could have been a much more serious injury, which would have infringed upon his valuable development time down in Brevard County.
>> Jose Veras pitched a scoreless inning on Monday against the Mets. It was his first outing in which he did not allow a baserunner since April 21, eleven appearances ago.
>> Cesar Izturis failed to execute a squeeze in the top of the second inning, making the Brewers 5-for-6 in squeeze attempts this season.
>> Francisco Rodriguez was booed more loudly than Ryan Braun, who has induced raucous jeers in every visiting stadium thus far. The former Mets closer also threw seven of his ten changeups for strikes, which is an encouraging sign.
>> Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to eleven games on Monday. He also inexplicably dropped the baseball in the eighth inning while attempting to tag out David Wright in a run down. The mistake caused the Brewers to fall three runs behind with only a half inning remaining.