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Gallardo Going Game 1 Good for Pen

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    Yovani Gallardo #49 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 19, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

    Yovani Gallardo starting Game 1 of the Texas Rangers' ALDS series against the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon might seem like an odd call on the surface, but a slightly deeper look makes it make all the sense in the world.

    It's been well documented by now Gallardo's success against the best lineup in the league this year, a bit of an oddity given his struggles for much of the year. But the proof is in the pudding, and the veteran righty has owned the Blue Jays this year in two starts against them.

    Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) won both of his starts this season against the Blue Jays, the only Texas wins against the AL East champs. The right-hander threw 13 2/3 scoreless innings, as Toronto had six hits and batted .136 against him.

    That's all great, obviously. What's bad is that Gallardo has struggled to get out of the sixth inning much of this year. That means a quicker entry into the game by the Rangers' bullpen, which has been a strength since the all-star break and the retooling that took place at the trade deadline.

    The thought is that if Gallardo doesn't have one of his dominant starts, the Rangers will have a fresh bullpen with four days of rest to go to. Or Gallardo could even have one of his typical scoreless five innings before giving way to them for the final four frames.

    It sets up nicely for the Rangers, especially when you consider Cole Hamels will be going in Game 2 before the Rangers head home.