Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo won his second consecutive start to open the 2014 season on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Gallardo scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win and complete the three-game sweep for the Brewers.
Gallardo is looking to bounce back from a mediocre 2013 season that saw his ERA rise above 4.00 for the first time in his career. More disconcerting for the Brewers was the significant decrease in velocity experienced by Gallardo last year, an issue that produced a substantial drop in his strikeout rate. It was reported that the pitcher lost as much as two miles per hour off his fastball, a sobering number for the Brewers and Gallardo.
Another disturbing trend for Gallardo was a tendency to accumulate high pitch counts, which frequently caused the pitcher to exit games prematurely. It was not that long ago that Gallardo was considered a top of the rotation starter, but last season’s performance was more indicative of a fourth or fifth starter.
There was some interest in Gallardo last season around the trade deadline, but in the end nothing materialized, as his issues with velocity and declining performance may have frightened some teams off. It was reported that the Brewers would need to be blown away by an offer for Gallardo or fellow starter Kyle Lohse to pull the trigger on a deal, but obviously this did not occur.
Gallardo is under contract this season to the tune of $11.25 million with a club option for 2015 in the amount of $13 million. It will be interesting to see what direction the Brewers choose to take come July. This will depend on a variety of factors, but if the still only 28-year old Gallardo continues his renaissance and the team is contending, they may be inclined to keep him and pick up the option for 2015. Of course, it could easily go the other way, but it does appear Gallardo has located his groove again.