Can Yovani Gallardo Help the Texas Rangers Get Back to the Playoffs?
Last year, the Texas Rangers pretty much had no shot.
Their young stud shortstop, Jurickson Profar, didn't make it out of spring training and missed the entire season with a torn shoulder muscle. First baseman Prince Fielder managed just 178 plate appearances thanks to a nagging neck injury that required season-ending surgery. And their big free-agent acquisition, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo spent time on the disabled list as well.
Folks, those injuries were just on the offensive side of the ball. Pitching-wise, it was even more of a disaster.
Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez made a combined 39 starts last year. Alexi Ogando also missed most of the season with an injury. In all, 15 different Texas Rangers started at least one game for the team last season.
And, to top it all off, manager Ron Washington abruptly and surprisingly stepped down as manager near the end of the season due to personal reasons.
That is why the Rangers finished 67-95 in 2014.
But 2015 is a new season, and in an attempt to keep up with the ever-changing Oakland A's, the reigning division champion Los Angeles Angels, and the improving Seattle Mariners, the Rangers traded for Milwaukee Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo on Monday, in the hopes he will stabilize the middle of a M*A*S*H* unit starting rotation.
Last season, Gallardo posted a nERD of 1.70 -- meaning over a 27-out game, Gallardo would have given up 1.70 runs a game less than a league average pitcher -- 50th best in the Majors. He went 8-11 with a 3.51 ERA, a Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 3.94 and an Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) of 1.7.
Fortunately for the Rangers, they have a deep farm system, and could easily afford to part with the prospects needed to get Gallardo, who is now more of a number-three or four starter. Texas sent infielder Luis Sardinas, relief pitcher Corey Knebel and right-handed pitcher Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Rangers have a deep system. It pays off in the Gallardo trade. Dealt their No. 7, 17 and 22 prospects. Good prospects, but no core players.— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 19, 2015
That's not a bad deal for Texas, even if Gallardo isn't the pitcher he once was.
Gallardo was once a true staff ace, but in recent years has seen his ERA increase while his fWAR and strikeout percentage has decreased.
The strikeouts are particularly worrisome. Gallardo simply isn't missing as many bats as he used to, even though his velocity has remained relatively steady throughout his career. Last year he averaged 91.4 mph on his fastball, just a couple ticks below his career average of 91.9 mph. The good news is that, while his strikeout rate has decreased, his walk rate has as well. Last year, he walked just 6.6% of batters he faced, down from 8.5% in 2013 and 9.4% in '12, and it's far below his career average of 8.7%.
However, he does give Texas something they sorely lacked last season. Health. Gallardo has not started less than 30 games a season in any of the last six, and that is something that is obviously important to the Rangers, given the implosion of their rotation last season.
As for fantasy purposes for 2015, Gallardo's lack of strikeouts and middling ERA won't exactly make anyone eager to draft him, although he's a decent option late if you need a reliable arm to soak up some innings. He has a tendency to give up the long ball though, with a 12.1% home run-to-fly ball rate last year that was eighth-highest in the National League. However, he doesn't walk anyone, and doesn't give up a ton of hits either.
He's a decent value pick who, if he can pick up his strikeout rate and reduce his homers allowed, can be a decent option -- both for fantasy and for the Texas Rangers.