Yovani Gallardo and the 5 Most Underrated Players in the 2011 MLB Postseason
In his last three starts before the 2011 MLB playoffs, Yovani Gallardo was lights out. He was 3-0 and allowed only four runs in 20.1 innings pitched while compiling 36 strikeouts in total. He seemed primed to enter the playoffs hot and help the Milwaukee Brewers make a playoff run.
Gallardo certainly hasn't been in the conversation with the likes of the Brewers best pitcher in 2011, Zack Greinke, but that is beginning to change. Gallardo has been the Brewers best pitcher these last few weeks and has flown under the radar before lighting hitters up recently.
He's continued that success already, pitching the Brew crew to a game one win in the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. Gallardo went eight strong, allowing one run on three hits with nine strikeouts.
Gallardo is one of many players flying under the radar coming into the postseason and here are the top five most underrated players coming into the 2011 MLB postseason.
1. Freddy Garcia
Just about nobody thought Freddy Garcia would be pitching in the post season for the New York Yankees as a starter, but here he is taking the ball in game two of the ALDS. It's as improbable as his entire season where Garcia posted a 12-8 record with a 3.62 ERA.
While Bartolo Colon impressed, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett were erratic and depressing on a good day. Throughout all this, Garcia has been an "old reliable" veteran, giving the Bombers quality start after quality start.
After Colon has seemingly hit a wall, Garcia's consistency has awarded him a start in the ALDS against the Tigers. And he is no stranger to playoff success.
Garcia has a 6-2 record, while pitching to a 3.11 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. He was also apart of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, a post season that saw him go 3-0, with a 2.14 era.
Those numbers are nothing to be underestimated.
His consistent season combined with past playoff success should help Freddy Garcia shine in the 2011 MLB playoffs.
2. Delmon Young
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Delmon Young was a post trade deadline aquistion for the Tigers, having to clear every team in waivers to get there. Young has been hot as of late and his success has put him in the three-hole for Jim Leyland's club, the spot where you normally put your best hitter.
Young is no stranger to the playoffs having been apart of the last two Twins teams to make the playoffs and be swept by the New York Yankees. Now his .200 career average in the postseason may not look so great, but Young has been picking up steam towards the end of the season.
After having a hot September that saw him hit six home runs (half his season total) and 20 RBI, Young is poised to have a hot October.
His solo homer off CC Sabathia before the rains came in Game one of the ALDS might be an indication of such. Young is certainly a player to watch.
3. Hunter Pence
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Hunter Pence has quietly become on of the best young hitters in baseball as a member of the Houston Astros. Now that he calls Philadelphia home, his presence may not be so quiet.
During the 2011 campaign, Pence hit .314 with 22 home runs and 97 RBI. Who really talked about his season? Not many.
But now he is in a bigger spotlight and getting his chance to shine in the MLB Postseason.
Pence was acquired from the Astros at the trade deadline and gave the Phillies some much needed extra depth in their line up which has battled some injuries this season.
Pence found himself in the three-hole for the Phillies in game one, going 2-for-5 and knocking in 2 runs in the Phils 11-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has already began to deliver for the Phillies who hope to return to the World Series and when it's all said and done, Hunter Pence will be a more well-known around Major League Baseball.
4. Ian Kennedy
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Despite being the ace of their staff and getting the call in Game one of the ALDS, Ian Kennedy has flown under the radar for the most part for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After what amounted to a disappointing tenure with the New York Yankees, Kennedy has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in the MLB. Kennedy has compiled a 21-4 record with an ERA of 2.88. Statistics that put him right in the middle of the conversation for the NL Cy Young award.
His Game one ALDS start against the Milwaukee Brewers will finally put the spotlight on Kennedy on a national stage. If he is successful and if you doubted Kennedy's true ability before, there won't be much to doubt now. There is no better stage to prove yourself and garner respect than the MLB Playoffs.
And Ian Kennedy has that unique opportunity.
5. Matt Moore
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Before his first playoff start, Matt Moore had only seen one Major League start in his career, tossing five shutout innings against the Yankees in September. Joe Maddon truly rolled the dice starting his top prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game one of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers.
And he more than answered the call.
Moore went seven innings of shutout ball, pitching the Rays to a game one win. Moore has time to continue to establish himself as the "real deal" and the playoffs are the perfect place.
He will be the Rays No. 1 starter for each round by default and if successful, could make the Rays rotation nearly unbeatable. Moore will enable the Rays to win any matchup against any team in the playoffs with their rotation depth and as we all know, pitching wins championships.