Yovani Gallardo was a big deal once upon a time. People called him an ace and teams flocked to bring him on board. Now, he's an MLB afterthought. To the surprise of many around the league, he entered a game on Monday night in a high-leverage situation. It turns out he pitches for the Seattle Mariners these days. All in all, it just reminded people of the shocking falls that affect baseball players often.

Gallardo pops up

In the bottom of the ninth inning against the Houston Astros, Gallardo came in to relieve Steve Cishek. The game was tied at 7-7, so the pitcher couldn't afford to make any mistakes.

Josh Reddick doubled immediately, spelling certain doom for the Mariners. A ground out advanced Reddick to third, which was followed by an intentional walk (and a steal), putting runners on second and third with one out. Several fielder's choices play resulted in no runs coming across the plate, though - Gallardo was spared.

He did not pitch after the ninth inning, but he caught a lucky break when the Mariners plated two runs in the top of the tenth inning. That allowed Edwin Diaz to swoop in during the bottom half of the inning and close out a 9-7 Seattle victory. It was dicey, but Gallardo earned the win. It was his first victory in over a month, so it was needed.

The struggles of Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles during the offseason for outfielder Seth Smith. The 2010 All-Star was coming off a career-worst season, winning just six games with a 5.42 ERA. The Mariners thought that they would be able to restore him to his old form, or at least make him a useful contributor in the rotation.

They were wrong, though, as he became one of the reasons why the team is struggling to stay in playoff contention.

The starter was atrocious from the start. He gave up eight hits and three runs during his team debut. It took until April 23 for Gallardo to earn his first win with the team. It took almost a month for him to earn another one has his ERA began to pass the 6.00 threshold.

By June 22, the Mariners gave up on him, moving him to the bullpen.

Since then, things have been a little better. In four relief appearances, he has given up just one run, earning one save and now one win. It's not a long term solution, but he is in the last year of a two-year deal signed with Baltimore last season. He will close the season in the Mariners bullpen, but Gallardo will likely start next year on his fifth team in five years.