Closing Time: Joey Gallo goes off, now what?

Closing Time: Joey Gallo goes off, now what?

On the schedule, it was listed as an American League baseball game. On the field, it played out as the Joey Gallo Breakout Party.

Tap the kegs in Arlington, we’re going to be here for a while.

Gallo arrived to the majors with plenty of press clippings - all those homers, all those strikeouts. And it didn’t take him long to get the locals excited Tuesday. He picked up a curious two-run single in the first inning - helped by a bad hop and perhaps a friendly official scorer - but there was nothing cheap about his later production.

In the third inning, Gallo blasted his first career homer, a towering shot that did everything but clear the moon tower. In the fifth, he cranked a double, just missing a second homer.

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To complete the Three True Outcomes, Gallo struck out swinging in the sixth and walked in the eighth.

Yahoo fantasy players have quickly jumped on the story, of course. Gallo is the most-added player in the Y! game over the last couple of days, quickly chasing to the 55-percent bracket. He’ll probably be even higher by the time this blog is published.

Which means it’s probably a good time to dangle Gallo in trade.

Full disclosure, I advised roto players to do the same thing before Gallo even took a big-league swing. Baseball is hard. He was making a double-jump to the majors. Sometimes you’ll catch an opponent with starry eyes.

Surely anyone who took my advice and did a swap Tuesday has seller’s remorse now, no matter what the return was. Nonetheless, I stick to the original premise. We’re still talking about someone with one day of MLB experience, someone who batted .268 with 478 strikeouts in 330 minor-league games below Triple-A. He’s still just 21, a long way from a finished product.

Fear of missing out is a real thing, especially in the instant-gratification age we live in. Shiny toys are expensive. I'm not saying you have to move Gallo, but at least look around and see what's out there.

You’ll hear names like Chris Davis and Chris Carter mentioned when pundits consider Gallo comparables. At Gallo’s best, I could see him maturing into the player Adam Dunn was in his prime. That’s intended as a high complement. But, heck, we can’t even be sure he’ll be playing for the Rangers when Adrian Beltre comes back in a few weeks.

I’m especially interested to see what Gallo does over the next two games, when the White Sox throw Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon, two nasty left-handers. Gallo had a strange reverse-platoon split for the first two years of his minor-league career, but he struggled mightily against southpaws when he reached the Double-A level (13-for-74, 32 strikeouts, though he still had six homers). Perhaps your Gallo selling point won’t be as lofty if he struggles against Sale and Rodon as this series concludes.

Of course, you’re welcome to sit back and enjoy the ride if that’s what you prefer. Rookies can be fun. Power hitters are fun. Gallo is the type of guy who takes a big swing no matter the count and situation, and who doesn’t want to watch a player like that? He’ll be appointment television for a while, for me and for you.

Now it's your turn to step to the plate. Please share your Gallo thoughts and expectations in the comments.

The Inspector (1982 Topps)
The Inspector (1982 Topps)


We’ve already had the Fernando Rodney talk, so this is going to be a review. Seattle has a messy closer, a reliever with messy numbers. Seattle also has a patient manager, someone who’s generally been willing to look at Rodney’s save-conversion stats and ignore the red flags elsewhere.

Rodney’s blown save Tuesday wasn’t a light-up-the-sky moment - the Yankees only hit him for one run. But Rodney created the problem with a leadoff walk, and it’s not a glorious moment when Stephen Drew gets you for the game-tying hit. Rodney had plenty of movement on his pitches, but didn’t seem to have any command of his stuff whatsoever. Yeah, it’s a rerun.

Rodney now has an 8.06 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP, and he’s walked 12 men in 22.1 innings. How much more do you need to see Lloyd McClendon? Meanwhile, Carson Smith keeps mowing them down in the primary setup role, with a 1.17 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Smith throws strikes, collects strikeouts, induces ground balls, everything a manager wants.

The shape of the save chase varies from league to league. In some pools, you can sit back and wait for a baton switch before you take action. In more competitive groups, you need to envision where the story is going. Smith is owned in a modest 17 percent of leagues - he’s worth rostering in many groups simply for the quality of his innings, no matter the role - and I only expect that number to rise. It’s last call.

• Jeff Samardzija was on the other side of the Gallo story, allowing nine more runs to his messy 2015 line (4.68 ERA). I still have a share of the righty and I wish there were a way out; I think I’m stuck with it for now.

Samardzija’s under-the-hood numbers aren’t horrible through 11 starts, but they’re moving in the wrong direction. His fastball velocity is down about four-tenths of a mile. Strikeouts, trimmed from 8.3/9 to 7.2. His ground-ball rate has tumbled. BABIP has jumped by 39 points, but he’s allowing significantly more hard contact this year, so that’s what you get.

The upcoming Detroit matchup looks bad on paper, though he's done well against them in two meetings this year. If you have a solution to the Shark Sandwich matrix, I'm all ears. 

• You can’t go out and add Chris Archer, but I suppose we need to mention a pitcher who piles up 27 strikeouts against zero walks through a couple of starts. Archer whiffed 12 Mariners in a tough-luck loss last week, then dialed it up to 15 in Tuesday’s domination of the Angels. Here’s your video, death by wideout slider.

Everything about Archer’s 2.01 ERA screams “legit” - he’s striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings, he hardly walks anyone, he gets a healthy share of ground balls. The ERA estimators project a tiny bit of regression, but it’s still below 2.50. Throw in Tampa’s home field and we could be looking at the American League’s best pitcher.

You know all this. I just want to give Archer owners a chance to take a victory lap.

Shock Me
Shock Me


For the last couple of years, Mike Pelfrey has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball. A 5.56 ERA over 34 starts, that speaks for itself. Pelfrey pitches to contact and generally, batters make good contact against him.

Well, they used to. In 2015, shockingly, the former Wichita State ace has taken the American League by storm. Well, it’s a quiet storm, a silent alarm.

Pelfrey was the tough-luck loser in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Boston, but it was the eighth time in 10 starts he’s given us a useful start. He’s now carrying a 2.59 ERA and 1.24 WHIP for the year, despite a puny strikeout rate (4.12/9). All of the ERA estimators suggest a number in the mid-4s.

Pelfrey’s making it work on the ground, even more than usual. He’s inducing hedge-clipping contact 55.8 percent of the time. That’s a legitimate skill, of course. On the lucky side, consider his strand rate (over 80 percent) and his HR/FB rate (just 6.3 percent).

If you play in a K/9 league or an innings-capped league, you’d never go to Pelfrey - the lack of strikeouts is a deal breaker. But if you’re in a deeper head-to-head pool, you should at least consider him one of the streamable. And while the lack of whiffs is a DFS killer as well, maybe you should back off the attack-Pelfrey stack until he comes back to earth a little bit. I know that’s bitten me in the first quarter of the season.