Armando Galarraga Infuriates Me


There were a few things in play last night that have joined forces to prevent me from writing a proper game recap for the Tigers game. The first was that I was only watching during commercial breaks of the season debut of The Biggest Loser. I could tell you that this is a concession I make to my loving wife, but honestly I enjoy watching the show as much as she does, maybe more.

(Before you get started, no, I don’t have a DVR. I am but a simple caveman living off the modest wages offered by a not-so-lucrative sports blogger’s salary.)

The second was the fact that Armando Galarraga relapsed back into his old “I’m afraid if I throw a strike, they might hit the baseball” self last night. By the time Galarraga had been removed from the game, I had lost interest, especially when I saw Alfredo Figaro on the mound.

When I was watching, I was disgusted. Galarraga frustrates me to no end. There are times, many of them recently, that he seems to have figured things out. He shows you that he is willing and able to attack the hitters aggressively and he gets results. Then last night, out of nowhere, he curls up into a freaking fetal position and sucks his thumb, steadfastly refusing to pitch with any sort of purpose.

Ian Casselberry wrote a piece this morning for MLive, one of the many, many places you can find Ian on the interwebs, that asked if the Tigers should be counting on Galarraga for a starting job next season. His article points out correctly that while the Tigers may pursue a veteran starter this off-season, there likely will be at least one spot open next year.

Has Galarraga done enough this season to warrant that job? I don’t think he has.

What it could boil down to is a decision between Galarraga and bringing back Jeremy Bonderman. At this point, given his injury history, Bonderman pitches with a very similar repertoire as Armando does. Both right handers relay on a fastball that moves a bit, but sits 88-91, both feature a good slider. The difference, apart from a whole bunch of salary, is that even as he has had to learn how to pitch rather than overpower hitters, Bonderman is more willing to attack the hitters and live with the outcome. On most days, his location is good enough to get the job done, other times it’s not, but he rarely nibbles at the corners.

Galarraga spends far too much time trying to guide the ball away from the swings of the hitters. When he gives up a hit or two, he tries to get even more fine, causing him to fall behind another hitter. From that point, it’s a walk or maybe he decides to give in and lays a fat one down the middle, neither outcome is a good one.

I understand the salary concerns. Bonderman will command a much larger number to sign than Galarraga will earn next year, even at a discount from his $12 million he made this year. You also have to consider that we are talking about what should be the fifth starters job here, which while still important, is less so if you find a quality number four.

There are many teams that would be satisfied with Galarraga toeing the rubber as their number five, and the Tigers may be one of them. I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t bring him back next year, but I sure hope he can someday get over the mental hurdle that seems to be there.

You’re not always going to go to the mound with your best stuff, but you cannot survive against any team by trying to nibble and make the perfect pitch every time, either. If you pitch aggressively and attack the zone, I can live with the results, whatever they are. More times than not, Galarraga has shown he can get the job done, but he also has shown that he cannot without trusting his stuff and his defense.