Gallegos Finds Success In Relief

Tampa, FL – Twenty three year old right-hander Giovanny Gallegos has been enjoying a break out year in Tampa this season, posting a 1.30 ERA in 27.2 innings. A former starter, he has found success coming out of the bullpen in 2015. His WHIP of 0.84 is the best on the team among pitchers with double digit inning totals, allowing only 18 hits along the way, and he's opening a lot of eyes.

Gallegos struggled badly last year for the Charleston RiverDogs, posting a 4.57 ERA while splitting time between starting and and relieving. He also spent some time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that was diagnosed as tendinitis. His success was then a surprise to most people when he came over to the Tampa Yankees from Extended Spring Training and started dominating out of the pen.

After strengthening his shoulder in the offseason his velocity has returned to around 94 MPH which is what he threw pre-injury. Compared to last season his walk, strikeout, and home run rates are about the same but what has dramatically improved is the less amount of hits he has been giving up. According to Gallegos this is what he has worked on the most, not necessarily the velocity.

“My command of my pitches within the strike zone is what has really improved the most, throwing my pitches on the borders and not leaving them over the middle of the plate,” Gallegos said through the help of a translator. “I feel more aggressive with my pitches and more confidence in them going where I want them to go.”

Another reason for his success is the development of his breaking ball and offspeed pitches to the point where he no longer relies heavily on his fastball, and as such has become less predictable.

“He has four really good pitches: fastball, curveball, slider, changeup and he attacks the strike zone with all of them," pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. "He gets the ball in play and his breaking ball can be his finishing pitch at times. He’s learned to mix them together when facing a batter. When he does use his fastball he keeps it down in the zone where he can make weak contact.”

There is always room for improvement though and one of the things they’ve been working with him on is getting him to repeat his delivery consistently. Last year he got away from being mechanically sound in his delivery which could be one of the reasons for his shoulder fatigue and subsequent shoulder tendinitis.

“We worked with him on delivering the ball better downhill," Phelps added. "With him repeating, his release point and his delivery consistently leads to him executing his pitches more consistently, and is some of the reasons for his success.”

Gallegos has been mostly used in middle relief this year, throwing multiple innings during every outing and according to Phelps the reason for this is that the multiple innings gives him the amount of work to use all his pitches to help him develop into a better pitcher, which is a part of their plan for him.

His role as a middle innings swingman shouldn’t be overlooked as he eats up quality innings, bridging the starters to the late inning relief guys. It also allows the team to pull a struggling starter early in the game, before it’s out of reach, knowing they have a great reliever that can come in and give them good innings.

Gallegos’s success in this role is giving manager Dave Bialas another option to think about. However, while he has been stretched out at times, it doesn't seem likely he will find his way back into the rotation anytime soon.

“There’s no plans right now of making him a starter that I heard of," Bialas said. "But he’s giving us good innings and is pitching himself into more prominent roles later in the game. Like most young pitchers at this level he just needs to continue to improve his command and be consistent with the location of his breaking balls.”

Asked about if Gallegos has been a surprise to him and Bialas will tell it to you straight.

“No. I don’t know how to be surprised, I didn’t know what to expect cause I had never seen him pitch before with him coming over from Extended Spring Training. But I’ll tell you that I think this kid has the potential to pitch in the big leagues someday,” Bialas concluded.

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