Rangers' Gallo Showing Signs That 2019 Was Not a Fluke
With the first homestand of the season in the books, the Texas Rangers head to the bay area for their first road trip sporting a 2-3 record. The starting rotation lived up to high expectations, turning in an astounding 0.39 ERA in the first five games of the season. Opening Day starter Lance Lynn was gifted with two starts due to the off day on Monday and got off to a hot start with 12 scoreless innings.
Lynn was in line to earn his 100th career win on Wednesday, but the bullpen could not maintain a 2-0 lead. However, the underperforming offense finally exploded with five runs in the home half of the eighth inning.
“When you look at what they did to get back, that’s huge," Lynn said on Wednesday. "Maybe guys were a little bit behind on timing and needed some time to get back. But they have been working their butts off. We see it. They saw results. And if things start clicking, then maybe we get off to a really good road trip."
Rangers slugger Joey Gallo kickstarted the rally with an opposite-field two-run home run off Arizona's Andrew Chafin to tie the game. In 464 at-bats against left-handed hitters, Chafin has given up only six home runs over the course of his career.
Gallo's home run not only put a jolt into the baseball that smacked the empty seats in left field at 106 miles-per-hour off the bat. He may have helped revive a stagnant offense that looked way out of sorts in the first four games of the season.
“After facing MadBum in a few at-bats, I knew I had to fight to put something in play," Gallo said after the game. "I was learning from my first few at-bats.”
MLB Network's Mark DeRosa had a very interesting break down of Gallo's at-bat against Chafin, displaying the maturity Gallo learned in 2019.
There's no denying that Gallo is not only the most impactful bat in the Rangers lineup, but he has the most superstar potential. He made a name for himself with his freakish strength, moonshot home runs, and a cannon for an arm that allowed him to find his niche in right field.
However, there is a vast number of baseball players that have an inordinate amount of talent that never translates at the major league level. In the first couple of years of Gallo's career, all signs pointed to him being the prototypical all-or-nothing power hitter that can hit 40-plus bombs but struggle to hit above the Mendoza Line.
Under manager Chris Woodward's regime, something clicked for Gallo almost instantly. He had a new approach that drastically improved his at-bat quality and subsequently paid off with results in the box score. Despite injuries shortening his 2019 season, Gallo showed his true potential. If the new Gallo was to become a permanent fixture in the lineup, the Rangers have their new franchise cornerstone.
It goes without saying, but that made 2020 a very big year for Gallo.
However, not unlike so many other people around the world, COVID-19 ruined his plans. Gallo was one of two Rangers to test positive for COVID-19, despite being asymptomatic and dealing with some questionable test results throughout the process. By the time he was cleared to rejoin the team, he was two weeks behind everyone else at camp.
"Even when I was quarantined, I was working," Gallo said on Sunday. "I was hitting off a tee. I was hitting the waffle ball machine. I was still working out. I was kind of preparing to be rushed. I’m a little surprised I feel as good as I do right now.”
Despite the delay, Gallo has been the Rangers most productive hitter. While that might not mean as much with the offense struggling as much as they did in the first four games, he's shown the same traits that made him an All Star in 2019.
"I’m pretty happy with where I’m at," Gallo said. "I’m kind of surprised with how I feel at the plate. I feel like I’m in a pretty good rhythm right now. I’m seeing the ball well. I’m not swinging at too many balls. I’m kind of having that same approach as last year that I had success with."
Maybe Wednesday's eighth inning explosion broke the dam. Maybe it was an anomaly. The Rangers will be put to the test with their first road trip of the season beginning on Friday in San Francisco. Given the circumstances, Gallo's performance to begin the season is a very encouraging sign that the 2019 Gallo might be here to stay.