Exit Interview 2021: Giovanny Gallegos

As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning.  Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review.  Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season.  As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!

Player: Giovanny Gallegos

Season stats: 6-5, 14 SV, 22 SVO, 3.02 ERA, 73 G, 80.1 IP, 51 H, 6 HR, 20 BB, 95 K, 25 inherited runners, 3 inherited runners scored, 2.75 FIP, 0.884 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 1.1 bWAR, 2.2 fWAR

Statcast: .272 xwOBA, 10.1 barrel %, 89.0 exit velocity, 38.6 hard hit %, 30.6 K %, 6.5 BB %

Best Statcast category: Chase Rate (96th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Barrel Percentage (13th percentile)

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 5

Grade: A

Positives: Took over the closer role from Alex Reyes in September….ended the year with eight scoreless innings before another scoreless frame in the wild card game….had a career high in innings….was equally effective against righties and lefties….allowed a .501 OPS at Busch….had a 2.72 ERA and a .457 OPS against in the first half….had a dominating June, with three wins, a 1.64 ERA, a 11 K/BB rate, and a .367 OPS against in 11 innings….didn’t mess around getting saves, as batters hit .044/.137/.067 in those 14 games….neither sixth or seventh place hitters hit over .070 against him….if batters took the first pitch their OPS was .516….batters had a .368 OPS with two strikes….allowed a .197 average to the first batter he faced….batters hit .152 with two outs and runners in scoring position, though he did allow a double, a triple, and a homer in such situations….gave up a .380 OPS in medium-leverage situations….batters hit .176 against him in the ninth inning….allowed a .421 OPS with one day of rest….had a 1.08 ERA and a .535 OPS against the Cubs….had a 2.23 ERA in day games.

Negatives: Four times gave up three or more runs in an outing….gave up three runs in 2/3rds of an inning in back-to-back days against the Braves in August….that helped raise his second half ERA to 3.44….his second half WHIP was 1.147….had a 4.50 ERA in July and a 5.40 ERA in August….eighth place hitters slashed .333/.414/.708 against him….batters hit .393 with a .978 OPS on his first pitch….had his highest OPS (.688) with two outs in an inning….his high leverage OPS (.660) was the highest of the categories as well….had 14 plate appearances after 25 pitches and gave up a .333/.429/.583 line….had a 6.06 ERA with two days of rest.

Overview: Gallegos is going to have those blow up games, I think, but he showed that what we saw in 2019 especially wasn’t just a fluke.  With relievers, it’s hard to know if you can get another good year out of them but Gallegos is starting to prove that he’s more than a one hit wonder.  It felt like Mike Shildt ran him hard–as noted, he had more innings in 2021 than ever before and that was coming off the pandemic-shortened season–and there were stretches like the one in early August where he looked cooked.  He’d always wind up righting the ship, though, and you wonder what would have happened had the game worked so he could have pitched the ninth against the Dodgers in the wild card game as well as the eighth.  Save for the blips, it was a very good year for Gallegos and should have him in the conversation for one of the best bullpen arms in baseball.

Outlook: Gallegos will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, assuming nothing in the CBA negotiations affects it.  He should get a notable bump in salary for 2022 and hopefully he’ll be able to go out and earn that extra dough with another solid year.  There are fluctuations in any reliever’s performance but Gallegos has been steady enough that there’s less concern about him completely falling off the table.  He should start as the closer next year, given production and the fact the club has talked about using Alex Reyes as a starter, and we’ll see if he can keep the job all year long.

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