D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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What's Wrong With Gallardo?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

For the first five innings of Monday's game against the Braves, Yovani Gallardo looked like a lot like his old self. He yielded just one run and struck out seven while walking only two. Unfortunately for him, the sixth inning was a different story.

Gallardo allowed the first five batters to reach base safely, including two walks and a go-ahead, bases-clearing double to Alex Gonzalez. Gallardo was finally pulled after an RBI single by Nate McLouth, but the damage -- both to the Brewers and to fantasy owners -- was already done.

It's been quite a struggle for Gallardo in the early going. He now has an ugly 6.10 ERA over his first seven starts and has allowed four earned runs or more in each of his last five starts. This simply isn't what fantasy owners were hoping for when they selected him with an early pick.

So, what the heck is going on here?

The silver lining is that his velocity appears to be just fine. According to Brooks Baseball, he averaged 92.94 mph on his fastball last night, which is actually higher than his average velocity from last season. He has averaged right around 92 mph over his first seven starts.

Gallardo's strikeouts are down this season (6.53 K/9 compared to 9.73 K/9 last season), although he has fanned 22 batters over his last 21 1/3 innings. The interesting part for me is that his swinging strike percentage is down significantly (7.1 percent compared to 8.6 percent for his career) and has never been considered elite in the first place. I'm hoping this is just a situation where his unlucky batting average on balls in play is the main culprit, but it's clearly not the only reason for his struggles.

While we try to exercise patience with Gallardo, here are some other notes from around baseball.

- The Tigers have finally pulled the plug on Will Rhymes.

Rhymes, who was the Opening Day second baseman, was sent to Triple-A Toledo following Monday's game. The 28-year-old began to show some signs of turning things around over the weekend, but heads back to the minors with a measly .221/.321/.235 batting line over his first 81 plate appearances this season. While his 10/12 K/BB ratio was more than respectable, 14 out of his 15 hits were singles.

With Carlos Guillen not anywhere close to returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee, the Tigers have called up Scott Sizemore to serve as their primary second baseman. And why not? Sizemore has destroyed International League pitching so far this season, batting an incredible .408/.495/.605 with two homers and 15 RBI over his first 92 plate appearances.

Sizemore, 26, underwhelmed in his first taste of the majors last season, batting .224/.296/.336 with three homers and 14 RBI over 163 plate appearances, but his fantasy upside is significantly higher than that of Rhymes. He's an immediate must-add in AL-only leagues and is worth monitoring if you need help at a MI (middle infield) spot in deeper mixed formats.

- The Yankees received a small piece of good news Monday, as Phil Hughes tested negative for circulatory and vascular issues. This eliminates the possibility of thoracic outlet syndrome, as was feared last week, but the Yankees still aren't sure what exactly is ailing the 24-year-old right-hander.

Hughes was recently sent for a battery of tests after a throwing session last Monday did not go well. He has repeatedly complained about a "dead" feeling in his throwing arm, which explains the lack of velocity on his pitches over his first three starts this season.

This remains one of those situations where he can be stashed on the DL if you have the proper room, but with no clear timetable for his return, it's not worth compromising your lineup by wasting a bench spot.

- Bad news got worse for the Cardinals on Monday, as general manager John Mozeliak said that third baseman David Freese will likely be sidelined until late July following surgery on his left hand.

It's a difficult blow for the Cardinals and an even bigger one for fantasy owners -- particularly those in NL-only leagues -- who are also dealing with extended absences from the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval and Casey Blake. The good news for some mixed leaguers out there is that Evan Longoria homered in his final minor league rehab game Monday and is set to return from the disabled list Tuesday.

The Cardinals will likely move ahead with some combination of Nick Punto, Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso at third base. Craig, who was activated from the disabled list Monday, isn't eligible at third base right now, but could soon become pretty interesting in NL-only leagues. I'm skeptical about his glove, but the 26-year-old has done nothing but hit in the minor leagues.

National League Quick Hits: Alfonso Soriano hit his major league leading 11th homer in Monday's loss to the Dodgers … Lance Berkman hit his ninth home run of the season Monday and is batting .406 over his first 96 at-bats … Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 28 games in Monday's win over the Cubs … Mike Stanton finished a double short of the cycle Monday and has homered in back-to-back games … Pablo Sandoval will undergo surgery to repair his fractured hamate bone on Tuesday … Madison Bumgarner fell to 0-5 on Monday night against the Nationals, despite striking out seven and giving up two unearned runs over seven innings … Angel Pagan (oblique) played five innings and went 1-for-4 with a walk in an extended spring training game Monday … Carlos Pena will continue to play through his struggles, despite his thumb not being 100 percent … Scott Rolen (shoulder) is unlikely to return from the disabled list when eligible on Friday … Logan Morrison (foot) did some light jogging and took some swings in the batting cages Monday … James Loney was benched against a left-handed starter Monday for the second time in the past week … Jose Tabata (hamstring) will be reevaluated Tuesday … Jonathan Broxton tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Monday's win over the Cubs … Tom Gorzelanny tossed eight shutout innings in Monday's win over the Giants and has a 2.93 ERA over his first five starts this season … Johnny Cueto will make a minor league rehab start Friday with Low-A Dayton … Gaby Sanchez hit his first career grand slam in Monday's win over the Cardinals … Andrew Cashner (shoulder) and Randy Wells (forearm) threw bullpen sessions Monday in Los Angeles … Homer Bailey (shoulder) will come off the disabled list to start Thursday against the Astros … Mets prospect right-hander Jenrry Mejia was diagnosed with a complete tear of the MCL in his right elbow and will likely require Tommy John surgery … Donnie Murphy was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with right wrist inflammation … Bobby Parnell (finger) has not yet been cleared to begin a throwing program … Evan Meek underwent an MRI Monday which revealed right shoulder tendinitis … David Ross will likely catch most of Jair Jurrjens' starts moving forward … Joe Thatcher underwent successful surgery on his left shoulder Monday … Doug Davis, who signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in April, is expected to start Thursday for High-A Daytona …

American League Quick Hits: Jacoby Ellsbury left Monday's game against the Angels after seven innings with a left knee contusion … Robinson Cano (hand) hopes to return to the Yankees' lineup Tuesday … Neftali Feliz (shoulder) will make his first minor league rehab appearance Wednesday with Double-A Frisco … Magglio Ordonez may be moved down in the batting order when Victor Martinez (groin) returns from the disabled list … Jered Weaver suffered his first loss of the season Monday, giving up three runs over six innings against the Red Sox … Jorge Posada went 2-for-5 with two RBI in Monday's win over the Tigers, delivering his first multi-hit game since April 13 … Josh Beckett will start on six days' rest Wednesday while Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow) will pitch Friday … Jake Peavy (shoulder) will make his next -- and potentially final -- minor league rehab start Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte … Paul Konerko homered twice and drove in four runs in Monday's win over the Orioles … David Ortiz homered Monday for the first time since the second game of the season … Nick Markakis banged his right knee on an uncovered sprinkler head in the outfield during Monday's game and was later hit on the right hand by a pitch … Kendrys Morales (ankle, foot) hasn't taken batting practice since visiting Dr. Phil Kwong last week … Franklin Gutierrez (stomach) began a minor league rehab assignment Monday night with Triple-A Tacoma … Alex Avila homered twice in Monday's loss to the Yankees … Derrek Lee hit his first home run since April 6 in Monday's loss to the Tigers … Derek Holland stated his case to stay in the starting rotation by allowing three runs -- two earned -- over seven innings in a no-decision against the A's on Monday … Hideki Matsui hit a walkoff homer in Monday's extra-inning win over the Rangers … Dallas Braden (shoulder) had a setback playing catch Monday and is expected to pay another visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum … Kevin Slowey (shoulder) tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings Monday in a minor league rehab start with High-A Fort Myers … J.J. Hardy (oblique) could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend … Coco Crisp (quad) was held out of Monday's lineup …

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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