When right-hander Yovani Gallardo starts for the Orioles on Friday night at Camden Yards, he will be making just his second start over a 16-day span. He will have received seven days' rest since his most recent start on Sept. 15 against the Tampa Bay Rays, and he had eight days off between that start and his previous outing.
Gallardo, who was signed to a two-year, $22 million contract in the offseason, has been used sparingly in September. The Orioles currently have six starters to choose from, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's going to take every opportunity to give his starters added rest down the stretch.
But for Gallardo, who has averaged 32 starts per season the past seven years, having this much time off between starts is unusual. Starting pitchers rely on routine, and Gallardo said he has never had more than six days between starts in his career.
“It’s something that I haven’t done,” Gallardo said. “And it’s not easy for someone to go out there with seven or eight days off and then throw them out there and pitch well. I’m feeling good [physically]. Sometimes it’s not up to me in certain situations, so I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to get ready and pitch and be ready to perform for these guys who are playing behind me.”
Gallardo, who has lost four of his past five starts, has suffered two of his three shortest starts over his past four outings, including a 3 1/3-inning start in which he allowed six runs on seven hits on Sept. 15. He has a 9.77 ERA over his past four starts and opponents are hitting .329 against him over that span. He didn’t blame his most recent outing on his extended time off, but it’s understandable to think he’d be rusty when he has been accustomed to getting the ball every fifth day.
“I think for me, it’s been a little different to be honest,” Gallardo said. “Eight days is a long time. It’s quite a bit. You’re throwing in between starts, trying to stay in your routine of going out there every fifth day and that sort of thing. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to get myself ready for whenever that start comes. The past two starts, it’s been two starts in what, almost four weeks? So it’s not easy for sure. But it’s just a matter of keep working for me. It’s obviously different. It’s the first time I’ve done something like this, but it’s out of my control. The only thing I can do is go out there and pitch.”
Before Wednesday’s game, Showalter shed some light on some physical concerns regarding his starters. Right-hander Kevin Gausman will be pushed back after an intercostal injury suffered in his last start, so right-hander Dylan Bundy will start Sunday. The Orioles said they caught the injury early, and hope Gausman can pitch Tuesday or Wednesday in Toronto following Monday’s day off.
Gallardo, who is 5-8 with a 5.77 ERA in 21 starts this season, said he threw a second bullpen session during the layoff to help stay sharp, but that only goes so far in simulating game action.
“That's really the only thing you can do, and obviously we know that’s not the same as going out there and pitching [in a game],” Gallardo said. “It’s just one of those things; sometime you have to make some adjustments and do whatever you have to do to stay sharp and help the team.”