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Brushing Up On Sean Gallagher

Gallagher was an in-season call up and he doesn't have the sample size I'd like to be able to work with.  He's made just 8 starts so far and his '07 starts were such a debacle that they really aren't relevant.  Not helping matters is his extreme reliance on his fastball.  Even when he's up 0-2, he has thrown no fewer than 60% fastballs.  The least number of fastballs comes in 0-1 counts, at 52%.  Against lefties, his dependence is even more exaggerated, bumping up to nearly 74% of all pitches thrown.  Against RHB, it's a scant (clearly) 64%.  Can't build much of a breaking ball database that way.  I think this is in part due to how aggressively he's been promoted.  He hasn't spent a consecutive full season in any one place and has never demonstrated true dominance.  To me, that says he's probably reliant on his stuff rather than being a true pitcher.  Nonetheless, he got his first cup last year at the age of 21, 3 years after being drafted in '04 out of high school.

He's pitched well so far, but I think it's something of a mirage.  He's got the stuff to play in the bigs, but he's not the 3.80 FIP pitcher his peripherals suggest, at least based on how I've parsed the numbers.  First, he's gotten away with being excessively in the zone against RHB with the heater.  Just 25% have been taken for a ball, while the major league average is 36%.  Working ahead is a good idea, but a 93 mph heater with below average rise is not elite and doesn't warrant that many strikes.  Grouping fastballs according to the means developed in this StatSpeak article suggests he should be very hittable.  Pitches potentially destined for the field of play have been fouled off at an excessively high rate.  He's quite content to waste his off speed stuff in order to get back to the fastball, but the in play results haven't been that great.  Unless he's legitimately dialing it up and we're swing and missing, I think his relatively low line drive rate is set to rise.

Against lefties, the fastball-after-fastball approach has worked well and the results are there.  He's allowed a .333 BABIP but just .389 total bases per ball in play.  That's a .056 ISO.  Thome's recent trouble against fastballs are likely to continue.  AJ doesn't seem to care how fast or how much anything is moving, he just grunts and swings.  So far every time I've tried to guess how he'll do I've been wrong.  The Penguin is a crafty mother.  Swish got well acquainted with Dempster's fastball yesterday.  It'll be interesting to see how well that translates.

The big mystery, really, is the off-speed stuff.  If it's on, it looks like it has the potential to be plus.  He throws a big sweeping curve with two plane break and he's had very little luck finding the zone with it so far.  But if he's got a feel for it, it gives him margin of error and a more diverse approach.  Perhaps the best news is the lack of change up.  That pitch has been a notorious Sox killer even without Paulie in the lineup.  We've been seeing breaking stuff well so it will come down to what we can do with the heater.  At the Cell, I like our chances against Gallagher.  Here's hoping Javy finds his control.  Slugfests are tough to watch and as good as our bullpen has been, it's certainly homer prone.  I really have no idea what to expect from Vazquez, so I guess we'll just have to wait.  Same bat time.  Same bat channel.