Ryan Braun is most likely the name that comes to mind when fans think of one player who must bounce back next season in order for the Milwaukee Brewers to be successful. However, Braun only needs to improve his public image, not necessarily his performance in the field and at the plate. The one player who absolutely needs to improve after a dismal performance in 2013 is starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo.
The right-hander posted by far the worst season of his seven-year career. It was certainly hard to watch the supposed ace on the team pitch so badly, especially in a year where nothing seemed to go right for the Brewers. Gallardo failed to reach 200 innings for the first time in two years and did not record at least 200 strikeouts for the first time since 2008, when his season was cut short due to injury.
There is no question the starting rotation was the weak link for Milwaukee this past season. Unfortunately, Gallardo, who is supposed to be the best pitcher on the team and the leader of the rotation, was a big reason for the embarrassing numbers.
Obviously, it is never a good sign when 12 different pitchers must make at least one start during the regular season. The Brewers understand they must fix the rotation in order to have success next year. Bringing in a veteran starter is certainly one route to go. Another way is for the starting pitchers on the roster to raise their level of play. The reality is a mixture of bringing in a veteran starter and the improvement of the current pitchers is what will be necessary.
Gallardo has already failed to reach the level that many had hoped for when Milwaukee brought him up in 2007. He certainly has put up quality numbers over the years but they are far from what an ace should be recording each season. For that reason, among several others, Gallardo must be the most improved player on the team in 2014. The success of the Brewers will rest on his shoulders.