June 3, 2010
Is Armando Galarraga Worth a Pickup?
From a fantasy perspective, there are very few people that are upset that Armando Galarraga gave up a single hit in last night's Tigers/Indians contest—he's owned in just 1.4 percent of ESPN leagues, and that number has increased by 0.8 percent this week, which is almost all totally due to yesterday's performance. What can we expect from Galarraga in the future?
Well, if you were one of the people who was still hoping Dontrelle Willis would do something besides ruin your numbers, then Galarraga isn't a bad option to have around now that the former has been banished to the National League. He's not a great pitcher for fantasy though, even in an AL-only setup, but he may not hurt you much either.
Galarraga is a pitch-to-contact guy—there's no better evidence on hand than last night's contest, where he faced 28 hitters and induced just three strikeouts despite getting ahead in the count on nearly every hitter from the start. According to Brooks Baseball, he had just three swinging strikes on his slider, and none at all on any of his other 85 pitches. He threw tons of strikes, not wasting any pitches—42 of his 54 four-seamers were strikes, and 24 of his 30 sliders were also strikes. This isn't always the case with Galarraga though—his career unintentional walk rate is 3.5, and he was up at 4.1 per nine in 2009. In the early goings this year he's kept it down under two per nine, but walk rate takes a long time to stabilize, so don't put any stock into it yet.
Every year of his career Galarraga has had a below-average strikeout rate, which is a problem for fantasy players, especially when the defense he is relying on isn't stellar. Detroit ranks #21 in Defensive Efficiency, converting 68.6 percent of balls in play into outs (using the park-adjusted version, Detroit still ranks #21)—expecting the defense to field everything cleanly as they did last night is a bit of a stretch, and Galarraga may not help himself out as often as he needs to. He's kind of neutral on the groundball/flyball ratios as well, with marks of 0.9, 1.1, 1.0 and 1.1 during the four years of his career.
If you're desperate for innings and hopeful that Galarraga can at least be more like 2008 than 2009 this season, than scoop him up—he's certainly available. But be warned: he's currently sporting a .186 BABIP to go along with the unrealistic walk rate, and as you can see above, chances of the Tigers defense letting a low BABIP exist are kind of slim, especially for a guy who is going to give them more chances to not make a play.