So Far, So Good For Lester, Gallardo, Romero

If a team signs a pitcher to an extension and he becomes an Opening Day starter, the club has an indication that the deal is going well. It’s too early on in the extensions for Jon Lester, Yovani Gallardo and Ricky Romero to call them successes or failures, because none of the extensions expire before 2013. But all three starters will pitch this Opening Day, a sign that the deals are going well for the teams so far.


The three extensions, signed within 18 months of one another between March, 2009 and August, 2010, are all for five years with a club option for a sixth year and are all valued within the narrow $30-30.1MM range. 

The pitchers signed similar extensions because they were on statistically similar career paths before finalizing the deals. And fortunately for the Red Sox, Brewers and Blue Jays, the pitchers have performed just as well – maybe even better – since accepting their clubs’ multi-million dollar offers.

Lester, the first to sign, has been one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game since 2009 (WAR says Cliff Lee is the only lefty who pitched better in ’09-’10). In 411 1/3 innings (64 starts) since signing, Lester has posted a 3.33 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.

Gallardo, the lone right-hander in the group, signed last April, a year after the Red Sox locked Lester up. Since the ink dried on his deal with Milwaukee, Gallardo (pictured) has logged 178 innings (30 starts) and posted a 3.84 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.

Romero broke out last year, posting a 3.73 ERA in 210 innings. That prompted the Blue Jays to lock him up in August, so he has made just nine starts since signing his deal. The 26-year-old posted respectable numbers over the final month and a half of the season: a 4.26 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.

The trio has stayed healthy and effective so far, but with three to five years remaining on the deals, there’s ample time for the extensions to backfire. All three teams were willing to take that risk when they offered tens of millions to the promising pitchers and, at least so far, the investments have paid off.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

51 Responses to So Far, So Good For Lester, Gallardo, Romero Leave a Reply

  1. Romero, even if I love him, doesn’t belong in the same echelon as Lester & Gallardo.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      he’s close. but neither of them are on lester’s level (yet)

    • grownice 4 years ago

      You really consider Gallardo THAT much better then Romero?

      • Yes Gallardo is much better. If not for injuries the question would probably be is Gallardo as good as Lester or not. Gallardo was having an absolutely elite season before he got hurt last year and his stats trailed off. He still ended up with a FIP of 3.02 and an xFIP of 3.42. Romero is more of a 4 ERA pitcher who just got a little lucky.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          So Romero’s 3.64 FIP and 3.75 xFIP are fluke but Gallardo’s stats are bad luck?

          That doesn’t sound bias at all..

          Gallardo does strike out more batters than Romero 9.36 k/9 vs 7.31 k/9 but Romero has a 54.6 GB% vs Gallardo’s 42.4%.

          Romero Vs Boston (4 GS, 7.71 ERA) vs NYY (3 GS, 5.49 ERA)
          Vs Orioles (4 GS, 1.88 ERA) Vs TB ( 3 GS, 5.61 ERA)

          Gallardo Vs Pirates (3 GS, 0.00 ERA) Vs Cubs (3 GS, 0.45 ERA)
          Vs Cards (3 GS, 5.81 ERA) Vs Reds (3 GS, 9.22 ERA)

          Too bad Romero can’t play the Pirates more to pad his stats.

          • Actually I was looking at two different things when I made my post which is where the discrepancy comes in, not bias. Romero has a career 3.95 FIP and 3.91 xFIP vs Gallardo’s career 3.56/3.71. You are correct that his 2010 was an improvement but even the 2010 stats weren’t comparable.

            Romero got to face the Orioles 4 times last year which are about the same as the Pirates and he got a 1.88 ERA out of it. Yeah he plays in a tougher league but there is still a skill gap in there and the gap would be wider if Gallardo had stayed healthy, we haven’t seen a full year of his best stuff yet.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            Romero has a career 3.95 FIP and 3.91 xFIP vs Gallardo’s career 3.56/3.71

            You do realize that Romero has only pitched 2 seasons and Gallardo 3, so going based on career FIP and xFIP doesn’t make much sense at this point.

          • Andy Mc 4 years ago

            What a joke. You think pitching in the beer league senior circuit compares to the AL East? Romero would destroy those 8-man + pitcher lineups. Give your head a shake, friend.

          • “Romero would destroy those 8-man + pitcher lineups.”

            Thanks for your opinion.

        • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

          Not sure how Romero was lucky. His FIP was 3.64 last season, slightly lower than his ERA

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      I’ll reword that for you

      Romero, even if I love him, doesn’t belong in same echelon as Lester.

  2. Lester looks like the best of the bunch so far, but I think Gallardo has a higher ceiling

    • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

      I agree, Lester’s stuff is nasty. Ever since his health issues went away he has put the pedal to the medal and hasn’t looked back since and becoming one of the best pitchers in MLB. He’s a feel good story.

      • 0bsessions 4 years ago

        I can only hope the Ryan Westmoreland story turns out half as well.

  3. CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

    I’m pretty sure there are different WARs, but according to the one on baseball reference, Lester was worth 6.6 WAR more than Liriano over the last two years…

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      liriano wasn’t worth much in 2009, so i assume that line is referring to 2010 only

      • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

        Liriano had negative WAR in 2009, and was still worth 0.4 less than Lester in 2010..

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          he’s not using rWAR

          • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

            Sorry. I don’t know the difference between the WARs.. What makes rWAR different than just regular WAR?

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            they are calculated differently. in short, rWAR uses a pitcher’s ERA adjusted by his team’s Total Zone defensive raitings. fWAR uses stat called FIP (fielding independent pitching) to exclude the performance of the defense from the pitcher’s rating

            both sites have thorough explanations for how they calculate WAR and why

          • MB923 4 years ago

            So you seem disappointed if I use rWAR but not if he does? :p j/k

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            he just asked questions; you were dismissive from the start

            you wouldn’t know it, but i do respect people who are not satisfied with FIP and turn to tRA instead, because tRA is a step toward greater precision. it makes a pitcher responsible for the quality of the contact he gives up in addition to Ks, BBs, and HRs

            this is why i asked you for your rationale so many times. if you had said “FIP is not sufficient; i’m using tRA” you would never have heard peep from me. i know dozens of people who take that position and it is a respectable one. the only reason i don’t use tRA routinely myself is the convenience of WAR

            it makes no sense to use rWAR instead of FIP, however, because that is a large step in the other direction. it is massively less precise

          • MB923 4 years ago

            I don’t feel I was dismissive. I’ve asked you the differences and you’ve told them to me, but you seem mad because I didn’t like it. It’s like as if I can make up a story and say using W-L to judge a pitcher is very helpful (not that I am saying that) and I know for sure you or anybody for that matter, wouldn’t even like it at all.

          • MB923 4 years ago

            While we are on the subject (and since I don’t have time to review it but I’ll have time to read your response if you choose to), is WAR for hitters calculated differently on the sites? And I guess I’m not going to bother asking which one you use more since I know the answer to it lol

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            yeah, there are significant differences i’m not going to try to encapsulate in a few sentences. i don’t mind rWAR’s calculation for hitters, but i have an issue with their valuation of defense. i do like that they provide an offense-only version separate from the overall calculation

            iirc they also operate on difference definitions of what replacement level is, which is important

          • $1519287 4 years ago

            Ah, I had mistakenly gone with the ’10 fWAR only. Taking into account the two years, Lee was the only one ahead of Lester.

            – BNS

          • MB923 4 years ago

            Exactly what notsureifsrs said. He uses fWAR (fangraphs WAR), i use rWAR (baseball-reference WAR) because I personally dislike FIP since it doesn’t penalize a pitcher for giving up hits except home runs. I understand why they want to calculate it to see how a pitcher could do on his own, but would you rather have a pitcher who has a high K total, low BB total, but gives up a ton of hits and runs, or a pitcher who has not as many K’s, a relatively low BB total, and who doesn’t give up many hits at all (ex. Roy Halladay, not high in K’s, low in BB’s, and as you’ve seen this past season, not many hits against)

            Again up to you what you want to use, neither is right or wrong, but I personally feel a pitcher is responsible for a majority of hits he allows.

            And while this relates to the subject about Gallardo, he had an FIP practically equal to Halladay (Gallarado had 3.01 and Halladay had 3.02) which would make it seem as if the 2 of these pitchers had very similar seasons, when you look at overall numbers, it’s almost not even close. The only 2 stats Gallardo has Halladay beat is a slightly higher K/9 and a slightly lower HR/9 allowed. Gallardo also has a much higher BB/9 (3.65 to 1.29)

            Gallardo also allowed a BABIP of .324 which was the 8th worst in the game. Basically telling you he gives up a ton of good pitches to hit.

            Do I still think Gallardo is a good pitcher? Absolutely. But he is no Roy Halladay (nor was he in 2010)

          • Where does BABIP tell you that he gives up a ton of good pitches to hit? I have seen every start the guy has made the last two seasons, and that is not even close to being accurate!!

            The truth is that the Brewers have Fielder at 1rst, Weeks at 2nd, McGehee at 3rd, Braun in LF……

            Their defense has been atrocious. Most of their regular position players have zero range. Gallardo’s BABIP is due to that defense.

          • MB923 4 years ago

            Check the numbers. The Brewers defense ranked in the middle of the pack. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad.

            Also his Z-Contact% was 88.4%, the worst of his career and unfortunately has gotten worse every year. I’m sure you know what it is, but in case you don’t know, it’s percentage of times a player came in contact with a pitch thrown in the strike zone that was a strike. I think 85% – 86% is league average mark (amongst top tier pitchers). Pitchers with “bad” years usually have it in the low 90’s, but the high 80’s is pretty high.

            AGain I have NOTHING against him at all, don’t act as if I’m saying he’s bad or anything. I”m a Yankee fan and I’d take him over any starter on the team except Sabathia.

          • Sorry, but I don’t care what the numbers say. Like I said, I saw all of Gallardo’s starts last season, and trust me, the lack of range from the Brewers infield cost him repeatedly. Prince, Weeks, and McGehee are absolute statues out there. None of the three has any range whatsoever.

            Really, the only plus defender that the Brewers played with any regularity last season was in CF. Cain, and before him Gomez, are both GG caliber fielders. The rest are average and below……mostly below.

            Not saying that you have anything against Gallardo, but in this case, using the defensive metrics to prove his BABIP is a black mark is just wrong. The Brewer defense, regardless of what the metrics say, was bad, to say the least.

          • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

            Your a good example of why sabermetrics will never go mainstream.

            Note: this is not an insult, this is meant to point out that sabermetrics is a complicated topic and can easily cause confusion :) Trust me I know this better then anyone since I’m not all up to date with sabermetrics myself.

          • 0bsessions 4 years ago

            Larry the Cable Guy’s popularity is a better example of why sabermetrics will never go mainstream. America loves stupid people.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            that’s a lil harsh dude, at least he’s trying

          • The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

            I wasn’t intending to insult, just to point out that the sabermetrics are not totally comprehended all the time and there are different versions, simply put confusion. I apologize to all that were offended or misunderstood.

        • MaineSox 4 years ago

          He was probably using fangraphs WAR which says Liriano was worth 0.4 more than Lester in ’10 (and worth 1.1 WAR in ’09)

        • johnsilver 4 years ago

          Nor pitches in the AL East and had to face Tampa and NYY several times each year.

          Lester would be an easy pick in that bunch, Red Sox fan or not.

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            Which “bunch” are you talking about? Lester, Lee, and Liriano; or Lester, Gallardo, and Romero?

  4. Yogo is gonna have a good year under the radar a 2/3.

  5. johnsilver 4 years ago

    The youngsters signed up under cost control contracts, obviously not Cliff lee signed under a not cost control contract..

    • MaineSox 4 years ago

      Just making sure, you were replying to a post about Liriano who was in the “bunch” with Lee.

      • johnsilver 4 years ago

        My mistake for putting it there and not making a more defined post ;-). Twins management should approach him tho regarding a LT deal, maybe moreso than Morneau who they probably won’t be able to afford anyway after his deal expires in a couple of years.

  6. 0bsessions 4 years ago

    “The trio has stayed healthy and effective so far, but with three to five years remaining on the deals, there’s ample time for the extensions to backfire.”

    In the case of Lester, I wouldn’t say this is the case. The most expensive year on his deal is $7 million, which is something the Sox could absorb in a worst case scenario. Beyond that, 2009 alone practically justified his entire contract at market value ($28.8 million value in 2009 versus a 5 year, $30 million deal).

    The way he’s performed, it seems highly unlikely Lester would’ve cost less in arbitration than the Sox are paying him through the life of his deal (Even if he were to completely fall apart going forward) and if he does live up to his contract, that one year club option could be an absolute steal.

  7. GriffeyandSizemore 4 years ago

    I think Gio Gonzalez is one young pitcher that needs to be locked up for a few years. I believe he will have a better year then Romero and Gallardo and is gonna be a stud.

  8. PagsBrewCrew 4 years ago

    I fail to see the point of the argument here. Wouldn’t all three pitchers be in club-control this year, regardless of if they had signed an extension? If they hadn’t signed an extension, wouldn’t they still be the opening day starter with similar stats? Sure, they might have fetched a bit more in arbitration than they are due this year, but as you said, there are still 3 to 5 years for that dynamic to change.

  9. blizzah 4 years ago

    Yeah but if you take into account inflation over the year and a half between Lester and Romeros deals, Romero doesn’t have to be as good as Lester. He just has to approach Lester to have similar value, which I think he will.

  10. YerHero 4 years ago

    As long as people are throwing around stats of suspect significance and/or relevance, I’ll float out that Gallardo posted an .837 OPS last season…think about THAT.

  11. Being drafted into the NL as a pitcher is a financial jackpot, you can make just as much money being half as good.

  12. krosnest0713 4 years ago

    It would be sweet to see all of them pitch on the same team though.
    Yes Lester has Buchholz and Gallardo has Grienke(though which Grienke your gonna get is up in the air), Romero doesnt really have someone to call a 1-2 combo though

  13. wickedkevin 4 years ago


  14. wickedkevin 4 years ago

    And maybe Trevor Cahill.

  15. GaryLe 4 years ago

    Weaver will likely cost more than twice what the above guys cost. A 5 year deal would include 3 years of free agency, whereas Lester, Romero, and Gallardo only included 1 free agent year plus a team option.

    Methinks that Weaver will likely ask for Verlander/Felix money, which would be a 5/$80 million dollar deal. Open question if he deserves it, but if he doesn’t he’ll probably just wait until free agency to cash in.

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