Milwaukee Brewers: After a bad 2013, Yovani Gallardo aims to be his old self

Yovani Gallardo has a lot to prove this season.

Gallardo is entering the final season of his five-year, $30.1 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. The 28-year-old is coming off the worst season of his seven-year major league career.

The Brewers needed to rely heavily on their starters and Gallardo was once again tabbed as the number one guy.  The signing of Kyle Lohse should have taken some of the pressure off of him as the “main guy”, but that never seemed to be the case.

Gallardo had a career-highs in ERA (4.18) and struck out the fewest batters (144) since his rookie season.

The velocity on his fastball fell from previous seasons. He threw it for an average of 92.6 MPH in 2011 and it fell to 90.7 MPH last year. The slower pitches made for more hittable balls, and it showed.

yovani-gallardo

Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo is entering his contract year with the team. (Photo credit: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers Photos)

He had a 1.362 WHIP, allowed the most hits per nine (9.0) and earned runs (84) of his career.

He was the subject of trade talks throughout the season, but a hamstring injury around the trade deadline kept him in Milwaukee. There have also been rumors of him being trade-bait in the off-season, but Brewers GM Doug Melvin will let him play out his last contract year…at least for the time being.

Was the poor year because of regression or was it a fluke?

For me, I see it as a fluke season.

Even the best pitchers are capable of having a down year (though Verlander’s stats are far more impressive). I think a lot of the problem had to do with his mentality as the season went along.

Just over two weeks into season, Gallardo was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The season started on a sour note and it took him a while to get back to his regular self.

In the first half of the season, Gallardo had 20 starts, a 4.83 ERA and allowed 5.4 runs per nine innings. Clearly he wasn’t in his regular form.

He was put on the 15-day disabled list in late July (hamstring)  and was replaced in the rotation by Tyler Thronburg. The time off  allowed Gallardo to fully recover from his injury and also clear his head.

Once he was back, Gallardo looked like the “ace” Brewers fans have come to know and love.

He went 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA while allowing a much more manageable 2.6 runs per nine.

After ending the year on a solid note, Gallardo will toe the rubber on Opening Day for the fifth straight year. The signing of Matt Garza bolsters the rotation and gives the Brewers three proven pitchers (Gallardo, Lohse and Garza).

This being Gallardo’s contract year,  he needs to show he’s still worthy of being the number one guy. There will be a lot of added pressure to perform at a high level, but I think a lot of that can be cut down with the five man rotation Melvin has assembled.

I’ve got a feeling that Gallardo will be back to his old self this season.

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