June 02, 2010
If the emotions at Comerica Park on Wednesday night didn't get to you, check your pulse, you might not be alive. One minute you're exhilarated as you're watching history, and the next minute you feel cheated, frustrated, almost like you need a shower.
Armando Galarraga(notes) threw a perfect game Wednesday, only it was negated by a blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce. You've seen the replay by now. You've talked it over with your peeps. You've read Kevin Kaduk's excellent take on the situation.
I'm just as frustrated as you probably are, but I'm not here to bitch and moan (I did enough of that on Twitter Wednesday night). Instead, let's look at the upside of the situation:
• Joyce was a stand-up guy after the fact, admitting he blew the call and offering a sincere and direct apology to Galarraga. And to be fair, Joyce has long been considered one of the better umpires in the game.
• Galarraga was the epitome of class all through the controversy, graciously accepting the Joyce apology ("nobody's perfect"). Galarraga refused to say anything snippy or controversial during several interviews, and his teammates were just as reserved.
• A mistake of this profile could be the tipping point towards major rule changes or umpiring reform.
• And last, but not least, we've got another potential fantasy pickup to discuss. Make the jump with me and let's try to figure out where Armando Galarraga goes from here. Should mixed leaguers be taking Galarraga seriously?
You probably remember Galarraga was a useful fantasy option back with the Tigers in 2008, recording 13 wins, a 3.73 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, but it was one of those surprise seasons you take with a grain of salt. His strikeout rate was a modest 6.35/9 that year and his K/BB rate was barely over 2:1. Galarraga's peripheral-suggested ERA was a full run higher than his actual number, and he was the beneficiary of a .247 BABIP. Most of the sharp fantasy players recognized Galarraga as someone not to trust entering 2009, and predictably, he crashed and burned (5.64 ERA, 1.57 WHIP).
Galarraga started the 2010 season with Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.92 ERA over seven starts. His strikeout and walk rates were in line with his previous Triple-A results; 8.2 whiffs per nine, 2.8 walks per nine. No one was expecting a lot when the Tigers gave Galarraga the call in the middle of May. His first start was a respectable 5.2 innings against Boston; his second turn was a mess at Chavez Ravine.
And by now, you know how his third start turned out.
It's very difficult to fairly judge anyone from their best outing or worst outing. I watched every pitch of Galarraga's turn against the Dodgers (I was there mainly for John Ely(notes)) and wasn't particularly impressed. I watched every pitch of his almost-perfect gem against the Indians and was very impressed.
At the end of the day, I'm not making a mixed-league grab on Galarraga right now. I don't see a lot of strikeout upside here, and although he recorded 15 ground-ball outs Wednesday (really, it was 16), he doesn't have a history of being a ground-ball specialist. It does look like he's added some velocity to his fastball and he was a strike-throwing machine against the Indians (67 out of 88), but maybe we just caught him on the right night. And this wasn't the 1995 Indians he shut down.
At least the schedule plays along nicely: Galarraga's next turn will come next week at the disappointing White Sox, and then he gets a home start with Pittsburgh. If you're in a deeper mixed group and want to kick the tires here, the matchups make it very enticing. If you're in a group with 14 or more teams and there's no innings cap, you can at least frame an argument for Galarraga.
As for me, I'm rooting for the story but I'm not exposing my roster to the story right now. You've got my respect, Mr. Galarraga, but I can't offer you a uniform at the present time. You don't have to shut out the White Sox next week, but I'd like to see more proof of your re-emergence before I make the point and click.