The Pittsburgh Pirates have used 21 different pitchers this season. That doesn’t lead the National League – the Marlins and Diamondbacks at 22 apiece do – but it is above the National League average, and tied with the Nationals. It seems the Pirates will be adding at least one more name to their list in the coming days, though, as today they traded cash to the Padres for the rights to Sean Gallagher.
Gallagher has been around the block a few times now. Just two years ago he was part of the package that lead to the acquisition of Rich Harden. At the time, Gallagher was 22 years old and in nearly 60 innings for Chicago had a 4.12 FIP and 4.40 xFIP. Despite lacking a top-end fastball or a great outpitch, Gallagher looked to be a decent bet heading forward as a cheap mid-to-back of the rotation starter in the typical Athletics’ mold. As time has since revealed, not only did that prophecy fail to come to fruition but Gallagher would be sent to the Padres as part of the first Scott Hairston deal.
Now, if one had to choose two ballparks that a starting pitcher with so-so stuff and a career 35.7% groundball rate would pitch in for the most optimal results, odds are the ballparks in Oakland and San Diego would make the list along with maybe Safeco Field. Yet, Gallagher never found that level of success he had in 2008. In 2009 he only appeared in the majors for a brief time and looked pretty poor, and in 2010 he’s spent 23 innings in the majors while posting a 5.85 xFIP.
So here he is. Joining his fourth organization since 2008 and in yet another pitcher’s park; it’s an odd story because Gallagher has only amassed 173 innings in the majors. He’s only 24. He held pretty decent upper minor league numbers and he wouldn’t be the first young pitcher to experience some growing pains. At the end of the day, he’s a righty without supreme status stuff and with a high reliance on flyballs and a strong strikeout to walk ratio. The margin for error is small, and yet if any team can afford to take a chance on Gallagher and see if something – anything really – can be milked out of an arm, why not Pittsburgh right now?
It may not be pretty, but it doesn’t have to be when the alternative is Brian Burres.