By R.J. Anderson //
With apologies to Ken Griffey Jr., Armando Galarraga is the hot story in the baseball world thanks to Wednesday’s near-perfect game. Whether the call on Jason Donald’s infield single was blown or not is irrelevant for fantasy purposes. The real question is whether Galarraga deserves a spot on your team. Short answer: probably not.
Galarraga broke onto the scene for the Tigers in 2008, making 30 starts. He would win 13 games and post a 3.73 ERA. Most pundits applauded the Tigers and bemoaned the Rangers – Galarraga’s previous employer – for grabbing yet another worthwhile arm. A season later Galarraga fell apart: He still managed to make 29 starts, but won only six games and held a 5.64 ERA. This led some to wonder what exactly went wrong; those who saw Galarraga’s 4.88 FIP in 2008 knew better – he was never all that good in the first place.
That’s not to say Galarraga wasn’t worse than expected last year – his FIP jumped more than a half run up to 5.47 in 2009 – but Galarraga’s skill set fails to inspire confidence in his ability to be an above-average pitcher. He’s a right-handed starter with a fastball that sits at just 90 miles per hour and he’s only a slight groundball pitcher. Generally pitchers with that profile need good command and control to make it in the majors, and Galarraga had never shown that ability in the majors. His career walk rate per nine innings is still over 3.5, giving him a mediocre 1.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Getting back to the question at hand, Galarraga has made three starts this season, and has a 2.57 ERA and 3.86 FIP to show for it. He’s turning the corner, right? Don’t be so sure. One near-perfect game goes a long way, especially when it comes in the pitcher’s fourth appearance of the season.
Galarraga just wasn’t all that good in his previous starts this season. Against Boston he went just over five innings and allowed only one run. He made up for that good outing by allowing five earned runs against the Dodgers a week later. All told, he struck out eight batters, walked four, and allowed two homers in 10.1 innings. That’s a 5.34 FIP and 5.24 ERA, more along the lines of what we’d expect from him.
Galarraga’s classiness is worth applauding, given his reaction to umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call. He had a very special night on Wednesday, but unless something has changed for good, he’s just not rosterable in most mixed leagues.
For more on Armando Galarraga and other pitchers who do something amazing, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.