COMMENTARY | For a team that had quasi-playoff aspirations before opening day, the Milwaukee Brewers finally earned victory No. 70 on Sept. 23.
In case you were wondering, victory No. 70 needs to come earlier than Sept. 23 for a team to have a chance at reaching the playoffs.
That would qualify the 2013 season for the Brewers as a disappointment, and that disappointment can be scattered about to several different areas.
Injuries. Questionable managerial tactics. A 65-game suspension. Poor starting pitching. Rickie Weeks' .209 average. All of those things were disappointing, but, then again, they weren't necessarily surprising.
Injuries happen to every team, and so do frustrating manager decisions. Ryan Braun's suspension, while very discouraging, was a few years in the making and far from a blindside hit. Bad pitching in Milwaukee has almost grown to be a yearly tradition. And Weeks, even though he is grossly overpaid, had a near-repeat performance of 2012. It didn't exactly come out of nowhere.
Nope. The prestigious honor of most disappointing Brewer goes out to starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Having your doubts? Perhaps these five reasons will sway you.
No ace in the role
In 2009 and 2010, Gallardo was called upon to become the true ace of the Brewers' starting rotation. In neither season were his numbers ace-worthy, so the Brewers went on to sign Zack Greinke and Randy Wolf while trading for Shaun Marcum. With the ace label gone, the pressure was off, and Gallardo put together the best season of his career (17-10, 3.52 ERA).
The success continued in 2012 with the same staff in place, but, entering 2013, those three acquisitions were no longer in Milwaukee and once again Gallardo was called upon to be the ace.
Too little, too late
But hasn't Gallardo been stellar as of late since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 17? He certainly has. In his last seven starts, Gallardo has gone 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA and six quality starts.
The only question is: Where was that Gallardo for the first four months of the season?
In those four months, Gallardo was 8-9 with a 4.91 ERA. That type of performance was a big reason why the Brewers saw themselves slowly fade out of contention, as they couldn't count on their No. 1 pitcher to show up every fifth day.
In the wee hours of the morning on April 16, an intoxicated Gallardo was arrested and charged for driving under the influence. Baseball doesn't have a mandated punishment for such an offense, but that's beside the point. Such an act is unacceptable for anyone, but for a player that is supposed to be one of the faces of the franchise and that is one of the highest paid players on the team, it was beyond unacceptable.
No bang, lots of bucks
The Brewers decided they were going to pay Gallardo like an ace, but that's not what they've received in return since signing Gallardo to a 5-year, $30.1 million contract extension in 2010, especially this season.
Gallardo's 11-10 record and 4.23 ERA are not nearly $8 million numbers, and that combination led to Milwaukee actually shopping around a pitcher it counted on to be its ace in 2013. But Gallardo pitched so poorly leading up to the trade deadline that scouts deemed him a No. 4 pitcher at best, and ultimately what the Brewers would get in return for Gallardo wasn't worth making a deal.
At only 27 years old, Gallardo should be entering the prime of his career. This is the seventh season Gallardo has pitched at the big league level, so the Brewers have given him more than enough time to grow into the pitcher they believe he can become.
But his drop in performance coincided with his drop in velocity. Never before, except in an injury-shortened 2008 season, has Gallardo's average fastball velocity been lower (90.7 according to FanGraphs). That's 2 full mph less than what he was throwing in 2011.
The velocity for Gallardo became less of a concern later in the year, but it's a concern moving forward nonetheless.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Yovani Gallardo