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Last season I made a point of never drafting a starting pitcher in at least the first ten rounds of any draft. I was in seven Fantasy Baseball Leagues. I won two of those leagues and took second in three others. So, you would think that this strategy paid off pretty well and that I would stick to it in 2014. But I am not. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very against selecting a starter in the first or second rounds. I also do not advocate going pitching heavy in the earlier rounds either. But I’ve determined after years of waiting literally forever on pitchers that having at least one power arm and preferably two locked in is the best way to go. After you have locked in your guy(s) with a high K/9, low BB/9, high GB% & HR/FB rate (all of which are a necessity to select a starter in the early rounds) then you can safely wait to form the rest of your staff. That is why I started profiling these “Late Round Starters” that you can target late and still round out a high end staff when all is said and done. Over the coming days and weeks I will profile starters who are not in high demand despite being very Fantasy worthy.
Yovani Gallardo – RHP – Milwaukee Brewers
2013 Stats: 12-10, 180.2 IP, 4.18 ERA, 144 K’s, 1.36 WHIP
Mock Draft Central: 169.13
FSTA Draft on January 15th, 2014: Drafted 20th round (251st overall)
L.A.B.R. NL Auction: Winning Big of $9
Folks have grown tired of waiting for Yovani Gallardo to develop into the front line starter most thought he would be after arriving in Milwaukee in 2007. Gallardo made so much progress through the years that he appeared to be ready to take that next step each of the last three seasons. But it never happened. In 2013, even he durable innings eater and strikeout leader that he has been got lost.
Gallardo is a strong, durable starter who often pitches deep into ballgames. He also pitches through minor aches and pains which is highly unusual in this day and age. He has made 30 or more starts in each of the past five seasons and thrown for 180+ innings in each as well.
Although his K/9 rate dropped considerably in 2013, he still averages a strikeout per inning pitched over his career. He features a heavy fastball that he can run up there in the mid 90’s and also two “out pitches” in his electric 12-6 curveball and a hard slider that is a swing and miss offering as well. For his fastball he offers both a two and four seam variety which keeps hitters off balance. Last year he threw less fastballs (-4%) and more curves (+2.5%) & sliders (+2.9%) than his previous career averages. It is almost impossible to find a pitcher of Gallardo’s caliber this late in most Fantasy drafts.
Despite his down season there were several positive indicators for Gallardo in 2013. He lowered his HR/9 by a quarter point (1.15 to 0.90), cut his walk rate (3.57 to 3.29) and got even more ground balls (47.7% to 49.2%) then the year before. Anytime you can grab a quality arm who throws as many groundballs as Gallardo and offers even a league average K/9 rate you have to take it.
He walks too many people. His career average BB/9 is 3.45. Although he lowered it to 3.29 in 2013, this is still far too many free passes to be giving up especially with his experience.
Although he’s just 28 years old, Gallardo has already thrown almost 1500 profession innings. That is a lot of wear on his arm especially considering the variety of pitches he throws.
Despite immense talent, Gallardo just allows too many base runners. His career WHIP is over 1.30 and he walks too many hitters. In the past he has relied on the strikeout to get himself out of trouble but if he can’t punch anyone out he is going to get knocked around like nobody’s business.
Gallardo had a subpar season in 2013. Fantasy owners have long thought of Gallardo as a guy who was just a step away from being a front line starter but he has never been quite able to reach that level. Still, the facts, talent and stats prove he is a tremendous value in the later middle rounds. If he can strikeout just a few more hitters and get himself out of jams he could wind up being a early round performer this season.
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