Noah Syndergaard Tossing Gem is Reminiscent of Yovani Gallardo Masterpiece

New York Mets Noah Syndergaard Brings Back Memories of Milwaukee Brewers Yovani Gallardo

Noah Syndergaard accomplished a rare feat last night. He pitched a complete game shutout and jacked an opposite-field solo shot for the only run of the game in a 1-0 victory for the Mets over the Cincinnati Reds. For the most part, he won the game all by himself. It was only the 10th time in major league history a pitcher achieved this triumph. The timing of Syndergaard’s feat is impeccable for Brewers fans. Monday marked the 10th anniversary of Yovani Gallardo almost executed the same accomplishment. While Gallardo’s performance on April 29, 2009, is truly special by itself, it combines with another outing exactly three weeks earlier, making Gallardo’s April of 2009 a month that lives in Milwaukee Brewers pitching lore.

Noah Syndergaard vs. Yovani Gallardo

Who had the better performance – Syndergaard or Gallardo? For starters, both pitched shutout ball and hit solo home runs to win the game for their team with a final score of 1-0. However, there is more to evaluate. The following analysis reveals just how special Gallardo’s performance ten years ago was.

Bill James‘ Game Score

Bill James, the brainchild of modern-day analytics, invented a metric called “Game Score” (GSc). Its purpose is to measure the strength of a pitcher’s outing, giving points for positive stats and subtracting points for detrimental stats. Comparing Syndergaard’s and Gallardo’s outings in the tables below, it shows that Syndergaard gave up four hits and zero doubles while recording ten strikeouts in nine innings. Meanwhile, Gallardo only gave up two hits, both doubles, in eight innings of work. He also notched one more strikeout for 11 total. Bill James’ GSc metric takes all of these items into account. The table shows that both pitchers received a score of 88.

Noah Syndergaard Game Log

2019 Pitching Game Log
Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str GSc 2B 3B
7 May 2 NYM CIN W,1-0 9.0 4 0 0 1 10 0 31 104 74 88 0 0
Yovani Gallardo Game Log
2009 Pitching Game Log
Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str GSc 2B 3B
5 Apr 29 MIL PIT W,1-0 8.0 2 0 0 1 11 0 28 116 74 88 2 0

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Deeper Look at the Numbers

While metrics are excellent guides to come close to a conclusion, they don’t always tell the whole story. That’s what’s happening here. According to the metric, the players both had equal performances. However, what Syndergaard accomplished Thursday evening was only done nine times before in the history of major league ball. It is an obvious overreach to say the performances are equal. Gallardo was hurt by what often hurt him in his career – his pitch count. He threw 10% more pitches than Syndergaard, 116 to 104, and still only managed the same amount of strikes – 74. He had thrown a complete game in his last start also, so there is a good chance he could have lost everything if he pitched another inning.

Simply because Syndergaard’s outing was superior to Gallardo’s, it shouldn’t detract from what Gallardo did that day. Brewers pitching was never that great back then. Gallardo was the ace. The team needed him to come through, and he did on both defense and offense. His solo homer off Ian Snell in the seventh inning gave the team all they needed to win. It was a thrilling moment for Gallardo. However, what happened 21 days prior truly made it a great April.

Hall of Famer vs Gallardo

The day is Opening Day, April 8th, 2009. The Brewers are taking on the San Francisco Giants on the road. A 23-year-old Gallardo is squaring off against 44-year-old veteran and future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.  Johnson is pitching in the 597th game of his career and Gallardo is only on his 25th.

Gallardo does his best not to let the pressure phase him. He starts the faceoff. The first inning is scoreless. In the top of the 2nd, however, Johnson gives up a solo home run to Mike Cameron. In the bottom of the second, Gallardo appears a little rattled. After retiring Pablo Sandoval, he gives up a single to Travis Ishikawa. Moments later Aaron Rowand doubles on an 0-1 count sending Ishikawa to third base. The next batter, Emmanuel Burriss, grounds out to Prince Fielder at first base, scoring Ishikawa and tying the game. Two outs. Gallardo’s counterpart Randy Johnson comes to the plate and strikes out swinging to end the threat.

The 3rd and 4th innings are both scoreless. Randy Johnson retires the first two batters in the 5th before Bill Hall hits a ground rule double. The Giants intentionally walk Jason Kendall. Then this happens:

Yovani Gallardo jacks a three-run home run off Randy Johnson. This is the first home run Randy Johnson ever gave up to a pitcher during his 22-year career (12 years in the National League). When Johnson retires at the end of the season, it ends up being the only home run he ever gave up to a pitcher.

Gallardo goes on to allow one more run in the seventh inning before departing. The final score is 4 -2 Brewers.

A Special April

Gallardo started April 2009 with a historic home run off one of the greatest Hall of Fame pitchers, providing the deciding runs the offense needed. Then 21 days later, in his last start that April, he was near historic, providing all the offense with one swing of the bat and pitching eight shutout innings. While Gallardo’s feats are not on par with Noah Syndergaard’s recent exploit, it is still enjoyable to reminisce about Gallardo during the 10th anniversary of his achievements. It evokes memories of one of the best homegrown pitchers to come through the Brewer’s farm system this era. Certainly, Gallardo’s April of 2009 is a month that will live in Milwaukee Brewers pitching lore.

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