Was it really necessary for the Texas Rangers to call up power-hitter Joey Gallo during this crucial month of September?
With rosters expanding this month, the Texas Rangers are calling on all able bodies for a push into the American League postseason. This includes the likes of former top-prospect Jurickson Profar, who stall can’t throw a ball, and Josh Hamilton, who still can’t run.
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But also in the mix is Joey Gallo, but can he still hit?
The big left-handed hitter became the first Rangers rookie to log four RBIs in his first game in the majors. He launched a home run upon his first major league at bat – it came on just his second swing in the big leagues.
Well, Profar did the very same thing back in 2012, yet there’s been very little from him since, but mainly due to a constant diet of shoulder problems.
Early success seems to be a bit of a tease where these Rangers youngsters are concerned.
Gallo isn’t struggling because of injuries. He’s probably a bit overwhelmed by the fact he’s such a high-profile player for a major league club at the tender age of just 21.
You don’t get the feeling that Gallo is arrogant or not taking the whole thing seriously.
On the contrary, this player wants to succeed, something that’s obvious by merely looking at this 6’5” and 230 pound hitter stand in the batters box.
In Gallo’s case, it seems to be a matter of pressing a bit too much.
Following a brief stint with the Rangers earlier this summer, Gallo went down to AAA-Round Rock and immediately began struggling at the plate. This isn’t really something he, or the organization, was expecting as room needed to be made for the return of Josh Hamilton, a completely understandable trade-off.
Yet, this move was made a bit easier by the fact that Gallo, following that huge debut with the Rangers back in June, really struggled with consistency over his final few weeks called up. He ended up hitting .218 with five home runs during 98 trips to the plate – and lots of strikeouts.
Over the next couple of months at Round Rock, Gallo’s struggles continued, and yet Rangers manager Jeff Banister had him the starting lineup in the series finale against the San Diego Padres last Wednesday night.
Gallo struck out three times on just 10 pitches.
On Friday night, Gallo was back in left field and was really no more effective – not that the rest of the lineup was either in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. Gallo did reach base on a walk, but also struck out two more times.
With players like Hamilton, who just returned from the disabled list, and recently acquired veterans Mike Napoli and Will Venable available, the latter also playing left field, I’m not sure that Gallo needs to be in the middle of a playoff push.
Banister was quoted by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News this week regarding his mindset in having Gallo in the Rangers clubhouse this late in the season.
"I’d like to try to get his bat going. We don’t need for him to be in the middle of our lineup, so there is not as much pressure on him. His bat can be a game-changer. His bat is real threat. But it can just be a threat. If the threat isn’t real, we will go in another direction, but I’m willing to look and see if we can get him going."
I can’t say that I completely disagree with Banister on Gallo’s positioning in the lineup, but I’m still wondering whether or not this is a good idea in the first place.
One of the most irritating aspects of watching National League baseball is the fact that pitchers actually bat. My main issue here is that they generally aren’t very good at it – thank goodness that Padres series is done.
Right now, Gallo is much like sending a pitcher to the plate. While he certainly brings a big stick that can change a game, the real question right now is whether or not that stick will make contact with anything. You hate sending what amounts to a free out, or even a very low-risk threat, to the plate.
Right now, Gallo seems like a robot programmed to swing at anything.
Granted, Gallo looked better in the opening loss to the Angels on Friday night than he did two nights before against the Padres down the road. He was a little more selective in getting that walk and might be starting to figure out that nobody is going to hand him gravy across the middle of the plate anymore – that experiment failed for a few opposing pitchers back in June.
Gallo has to realize this, and possibly just relax.
Until that time, he doesn’t look like a major league hitter.
Well see how Banister responds in the second game against Los Angeles on Saturday night. The Angels sit just 2.5 games behind the Rangers for the second AL Wild Card spot. Texas trails the Houston Astros by three games in the AL West.
If Gallo can help, that’s great – and he certainly might.
But this decision by Banister is going to have to bear fruit awfully soon.
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