Aces are supposed to stop losing streaks, and that’s exactly what Yovani Gallardo did on Tuesday night, throwing a 2-hit shutout to stop the Brewers’ 4-game skid. Whether or not Gallardo is an ace depends on your definition (Best pitcher on the staff? Among the league’s top 30 pitchers? Top 20?), but there’s no doubting that he was impressive against the Braves, even if he only had two strikeouts.
As fun as it has been to watch Gallardo, it’s also been maddening at times — he has very good strikeout stuff and can rack up the K’s, but often times he wastes too many pitches trying to get them. Whether it’s trying to paint the corners or get a batter to swing over the top of a spiked curveball, Gallardo typically works into a lot of deep counts.
For whatever reason, that changed on Tuesday night, as he pounded the zone against Atlanta. Take a look at his strikezone plot, courtesy of Brooks Baseball’s pitch f/x database:
(Click to enlarge)
While he still threw plenty of balls, it appears that many of them barely missed the zone — they were far from easy pitches to take. The end result was a ton of groundouts — 16 ground balls, to be exact, as opposed to four fly balls and four line drives. Atlanta hitters just couldn’t hit the ball hard against him, and that led to a lot of action in the infield. Luckily, the sure-handed Craig Counsell was at short.
It was an impressive performance by Yo, and one that was desperately needed. He became the first Brewers starter this year to pitch past the 6th inning, and with a spot start — whether it comes from Sergio Mitre, Marco Estrada, or someone else — scheduled for tonight, it couldn’t have come at a better time. These are the kinds of starts the Brewers need out of him while they wait for Zack Greinke to get into game shape, and it came against one of the better lineups in the league.
If you want to read more on Gallardo’s start, Jim Breen has more at Bernie’s Crew with a look at Yo’s pitch selection that’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.