Everyone knows Galarraga's name and he will forever be linked to Jim Joyce and what is now universally known as the "imperfect game." What most people don't know is his background and if he's going to be remember for anything else in his career (my opinion: NO). The 28-year old was signed as an international free agent by the Expos when he was 16, and was traded to the Rangers in 2005 in the deal for Alfonso Soriano. He was then traded to the Tigers in 2008 for a minor leaguer (Michael Hernandez). Everyone loved his slider, and he used it often, but had numerous injury problems (Tommy John and recurrent elbow pain since, even as recent as last August), and he also lacked a development of a 3rd pitch to get lefties out consistently. In 2008 for the Tigers, his first full year in the majors (debuted in 2007) he was 13-7, with a 3.73 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, finishing 4th in ROY voting and the Tigers thought they had a future rotation fixture. He was getting by laregly based on luck, as his advanced metrics predicted his impending doom. He had a below league average K/9, and had an unsustainable BAPIP of .247 and a high LOB % rate. His FIP for 2008 was 4.88. Well last year his stats did correct, and he went 6-10 with a 5.64 ERA and 1.56 WHIP (largely due to normal regression of BAPIP to .302). Righties have a tough time with his fastball/slider, as they have only hit .216/.281/.363 versus him in his career. Lefties are a different story; .279/.355/.505. As we will see below, he doesn't have an out-pitch/anything he can get lefties to swing and miss consistently. He has never faced the Mets in his brief career.
He has a clean motion, where he stays tall and throws from a 3/4 arm slot. He throws a 91 mph sinking fastball to both sides of the plate (63% of his pitches vs 49% 2008 and 2009), and his plus slider that is very tough on righties (86 mph). As mentioned previously, he relied heavily on his slider and threw it > 38% of the time in 2008 and 2009, but this year that's decreased to 30%. He throws his change-up only a few times a game (6% down from 12%) and he tends to telegraph it, slowing both his arm and his body down. His fastball has been his best pitch this year (he increased his velocity 1+ mph this off-season), but his slider has been hit hard. He's throwing 1st pitch strikes 62% of the time (58% league average) and has a very tough time getting swings and misses, only 6% (league average 8.2%).
During his 'imperfect game', he did a great job of throwing his fastball inside to righties and then got them to chase his slider low and away. Versus lefties he did a great job locating his fastball on the outer half of the plate; but he only got one swing and a miss from a lefty during that game.
This year Galarraga has made six starts, and is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA (4.76 FIP) and 1.11 WHIP. He is striking out only 3.5/9 (league average is 7), and minimizing walks to 2.1/9 (league average is 3.4/9). He's benefiting from an unsustainable BAPIP .233 and a 77% strand rate (71% league average). In his last start versus the Diamondbacks, he lasted only 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits, walking two and let up four earned runs, while striking out only two. He's gone > six innings only twice out of his six starts and has allowed a home run in each of his last three games.
Looking at his stats and his pitches, he seems destined to the bullpen as a righty-specialist (Kiko Calero anyone?) The Mets need to load up on the lefties versus Galarraga tonight.