Gallardo Gets the Call

With Chris Capuano going on the Disabled List, the Milwaukee Brewers plan to call up Yovani Gallardo to — possibly — take his place. His first start could come on Monday against the Giants and he is already available in Yahoo! leagues. There is a good chance he will be sent back down when Capuano — who only has a strained groin — returns from the Disabled List. There is also a chance he will pitch out of the bullpen for a little while. If he starts, though, he figures to be a good option in all leagues. We looked at his numbers not too long ago, but I’ll post them again.

2005 A West Virginia – 117.7 IP | 7.95 K/9 | 3.90 BB/9 | 51.3% GB
2006 A+ Brevard County – 78 IP | 11.88 K/9 | 2.65 BB/9 | 57.3% GB
2006 AA Huntsville – 77.3 IP | 9.89 K/9 | 3.26 BB/9 | 42% GB
2007 AAA Nashville – 77.0 IP | 12.86 K/9 | 3.27 BB/9 | 42.0% GB

Since our last look-in, Gallardo’s Walk rate has jumped from 2.85 to 3.27. It will probably be closer to 4.00 in the majors, which could prove problematic for Gallardo. His Strikeout rate is superb, though, and I don’t see him having any trouble keeping it above 8.00 in the majors. There’s a good chance it will even be closer to 9.00. His K/BB would stay above 2.00 then, but his Ground ball rate is only so-so. He will give up his share of Home Runs and should experience a few bumps along the way. Overall, Gallardo should end up as one of the top rookie hurlers of 2007.

[Begin tangent about minor leaguers, risk, hype, and strategy]

A couple of days ago, Patrick DiCaprio, warned not to rely too heavily on minor leaguers… that they are replaceable by proven veterans with less risk. In most cases, this is true. I am completely against stockpiling rookies in the preseason draft and wasting a roster spot on a pitcher you won’t play for a few months. But when you can get these players for the value of a bench spot, it is a different story. If you can get Gallardo for free on your waiver wire, I think it would be a good idea to do so. Sure, a player with a line of [8.50 K/9 | 4.00 BB/9 | 42% GB] isn’t exactly a rare commodity, but I highly doubt you will find any other waiver wire pitchers with skills that good. Once you pick him up, however, all bets are off. If someone in your league overvalues him and offers a proven, dominating pitcher, take advantage of it.

I don’t buy into the theory that mixed league owners can safely ignore minor leaguers. Of course, all minor leaguers have a built-in ‘risk’ component, but by carefully targeting the right ones, they can prove to be a worthwhile investment if you can acquire them cheaply. Each year, there will probably only be a handful of mid-season minor leagues call-ups worth owning in most mixed leagues, but it is possible to spot some of these guys. I believe Gallardo is one of them. He probably will not be a dominant starter this year, but he will be a serviceable one that could be added to the back end of almost any fantasy rotation.

In addition to this ‘risk’ component, minor leaguers also have a built-in ‘hype’ component. Many fantasy league owners tend to prefer young, exciting players to old, boring ones (even if the numbers say they shouldn’t). Minor league call-ups are the next wave of these young, exciting players, and many times owners will pay a premium for the ‘electric factor’ these players possess.

Some of these owners will have been hanging onto the Yovani Gallardos and Homer Baileys since April; that’s a mistake. In the leagues where these guys are still available when their real-life clubs call them up, though, there is still likely to be at least a couple of owners who will pay a little extra to get the ‘next big star’ on their team. When you identify these owners, make a mental note of who they are. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

Then, when that ‘next big star’ gets called up — assuming you have someone worth dropping — you could consider picking him up. Even if you realize he’s not yet ready to be a star, and even if you don’t like him, there might be an owner who does and will pay more than you did to get him. If you know the tendencies of the other owners in your league, and one or two is susceptible to overvaluing rookies, picking him up and trading him might be a positive equity move. This won’t work in every league, but it is a strategy to keep in your back pocket for special situations. This works best in leagues where you can add and drop players as you please and there are no bidding or waiver priority rules.

[End tangent]

[Resume talking about Gallardo]

Here is what I will do with Gallardo. I will pick him up in leagues where I could use another pitcher. In the leagues where there isn’t a weekly transaction period, I will sniff around to see if anyone likes Gallardo. In these leagues, I made sure to be the first one to the wire so no one else had an opportunity to get him for free. If I find a suitable trade right away, I’ll make it. Otherwise, I’ll hang onto him until he either proves he isn’t ready for the majors (which I don’t think will happen) or he performs well enough to warrant a spot on my team (the more likely scenario). Other leagues will depend upon a number of different factors, but in the end Gallardo should be on somebody’s roster by the end of the weekend. He deserves to be owned in all leagues, for now.

We’ve talked a lot about talent and strategy, so far, but only mentioned opportunity in passing. There is no guarantee Gallardo will start, much less stick as a starter in the majors. When Capuano comes back, Gallardo could easily be sent back down to the minors. Dave Bush or Claudio Vargas could get sent to the bullpen if Gallardo dominates, but we have very little to go on right now besides speculation. Gallardo should be picked up in case he sticks, but be aware that you might be dropping him in a week or two if he is sent back down.

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