Yovani Gallardo is no stranger to high pitch counts. Those familiar with his work are used to seeing Gallardo, and his not so crisp control, nearing the 100-pitch mark around the fifth or sixth inning. In fact, according to Baseball Reference, over Gallardo’s eight-year career, he averages 103 pitches and just over 6 IP per games started. So Sunday’s game was special for Gallardo. Not because he had, yet another, 100-plus pitch performance. No, it was special because of how high his pitch count reached.
Sunday, against the Pirates, Gallardo threw 121 pitches, 80 for strikes, through seven scoreless innings. He racked up 8 Ks while only allowing 4 H and 1 BB. Gallardo’s outing was highlighted by a 23-pitch seventh inning where he worked around a Russell Martin single and two defensive miscues that loaded the bases with one out. Now, on most days, a call to the bullpen would have been in order but Ron Roenicke decided to leave Gallardo’s fate in his own hands.
With his pitch count already at 110, four off of his season high, Gallardo was left in the game to face pinch-hitter Jose Tabata, who eventually struck out on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. This season’s persistent pain-in-the-side Josh Harrison followed and popped out to Mark Reynolds at first base to end the inning. Thus leaving unsullied the bounce back start Gallardo needed after giving up 6 ER over 5 IP during Tuesday’s loss to the Twins.
Gallardo’s 121 pitches are tied for the fourth most that he’s ever thrown in a MLB start. It’s also tied for the seventh most pitches thrown by any starter so far this season, and only seven pitches away from the top spot. Here’s a list of most pitches thrown by a starter this year –
|1||128||Josh Beckett||9.0||O||O||6||3||PHI||May 25||W|
|1||128||Julio Teheran||9.0||6||O||8||2||MIL||May 20||W|
|1||128||Dallas Keuchel||8.2||5||2||8||1||LAA||May 19||W|
|1||128||Cliff Lee||9.0||11||1||13||1||ATL||April 16||L|
|2||127||C.J. Wilson||9.0||5||O||7||2||TB||May 17||W|
|3||126||Lance Lynn||9.0||5||O||2||3||NYY||May 27||W|
|3||126||Yu Darvish||8.2||2||O||12||2||BOS||May 9||W|
|3||126||Jeff Samardzija||9.0||3||O||7||2||CWS||May 5||ND|
|4||125||C.J. Wilson||8.0||7||3||5||3||NYY||May 6||ND|
|5||123||John Danks||5.2||7||4||4||4||TB||April 26||L|
|6||122||Jon Lester||7.0||5||4||7||O||TOR||April 27||L|
|6||122||Chris Tilman||5.0||7||3||5||4||BOS||April 18||W|
|7*||121||Yovani Gallardo||7.0||4||O||8||1||PIT||June 8||W|
*Joining Gallardo at the 121-pitch mark is Homer Bailey (6/8), Bartolo Colon (5/28), R.A. Dickey (5/8), Aaron Harang (4/18), and Jose Quintana (4/13).
As expected, most pitchers landing on this list are having good days. Chris Tilman and John Danks being the only two to join these ranks and not make the sixth inning. While Gallardo didn’t battle his way through 121 pitches, he also didn’t cruise as deep into the game as most pitchers on this list. So, how does his Sunday performance stack up against other games in which Gallardo went deep?
Even for Gallardo, reaching 121 or more pitches is a rare feat. He’s only thrown that many pitches seven times in 192 big league starts. The last occurrence coming during the 2011 season. Here’s how those seven starts stack up –
When compared to other high pitch count games for Gallardo, Sunday’s performance is par for the course. He’s lasted only seven innings in four out of his seven high pitch count games. Even when Gallardo rolls deep, efficiency isn’t exactly his forte.
This season Gallardo is averaging 99 pitches per game. Sunday’s performance should give that total a little bump. Yet, it won’t be enough to catch the league leaders Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson, who are both averaging 112 pitches per game. Amazingly, C.J. Wilson has only one start where he hasn’t reached the 100-pitch mark, and Justin Verlander has crossed the 100-pitch plateau in every start this season.