At this point in his career, Yovani Gallardo does not get caught up in whether he’s the No. 1, 2 or 5 starter.
Actually, there are advantages to pitching at the bottom of the rotation, the right-hander said.
On Wednesday, the 31-year-old veteran will make his first home start for the Mariners as they close out their three-game series against American League West rival Houston at Safeco Field.
Being a No. 5 starter has given Gallardo more time to adjust to everything.
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“You prepare for an (opening day) start in spring training,” Gallardo said. “Now, (being down in the rotation), you have a little bit more time and games under your belt to take it all in. And whatever game it is your turn — Nos. 2-5 — you get to see how the guys (opposing hitters) are swinging the bats and that sort of thing, and make adjustments from there.”
Acquired in a trade with Baltimore for outfielder Seth Smith in January, Gallardo has a proven track record in the majors. In 11 seasons with the Brewers (2007-14), Texas (2015), Baltimore (2016) and now with Seattle, he has made 268 starts and has a career 3.79 ERA.
This is the first time in Gallardo’s career that he will pitch in what is considered a pitcher’s ballpark. And his numbers in Seattle, while a small sample, are good. He’s 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 11-plus innings. Ten of the 11 hits he’s given up have been singles.
“Honestly, I try not to pitch to the ballpark, as crazy as that sounds,” Gallardo said. “If I pitch the way I’ve pitched a lot in my career, I will be in a good spot.”
Gallardo made his Mariners debut Friday in Anaheim, giving up three runs in five innings in a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“A true pro,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “He knows exactly what he wants to do and how to attack hitters. He knows himself.”
A 2004 second-round pick by the Brewers, Gallardo has been primarily a four-pitch pitcher — four-seam fastball (low- to mid-90 mph range), slider, curveball and changeup.
He has racked up strikeouts, too — 1,436 of them — in his 1,596-plus innings. He ranks second only to former Los Angeles Dodgers great Fernando Valenzuela (2,074) in strikeouts by a Mexican-born pitcher.
After battling leg injuries in 2008, Gallardo pitched his first full season in the majors a year later. In his first start against the San Francisco Giants, he became the first pitcher to hit a home run off former Mariners ace Randy Johnson in a game.
Gallardo was the Brewers’ opening day starter from 2010-14. His five first-game starts are second-most in franchise history behind Ben Sheets’ six.
He changed leagues in 2015 after being traded to Texas in exchange for Marcos Diplan, Corey Knebel and Luis Sardinas. He started on opening day for the Rangers and finished with a 13-11 record with a 3.42 ERA.
Gallardo noted he’s had “opportunities to start opening day before,” but added coming to Seattle, he certainly knows his place in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez.
“We all know who that guy is,” he said.
“Whatever I can do to help this team out and get victories for this club — that is how I have been since day one in the big leagues.”
Gallardo said this has been an easy clubhouse so far to get situated in.
“From day one, their message to me was just for me to be myself and have fun,” Gallardo said. “And when it is time to go out there and perform, just take care of business. That is what I have to do.”
M’s, Astros play late
Seattle’s game Tuesday night was in progress when The Olympian went to press. Read all about it at theolympian.com.