PHOENIX – After the opening month of the season, the rhythm seems routine. Clean, precise, and uniform. That’s the experience Arizona Diamondbacks’ righthander Zac Gallen displays to opponents and his mastery continued Sunday afternoon in Chase Field.
These days, there is such a pace and tempo to Gallen that his production seems to come off an assembly line. Spotless and consistent. Results of the season to date clearly place the native of Somerdale, N. J. among the elite of the National League. That’s the way he is presently shown to opponents and Gallen continued his devastating result Sunday afternoon.
After dispatching the Colorado Rockies 4-0 before 19,322, Gallen lowered his already minuscule ERA to 0.95. His efficiency is almost predictable, and his effort seems flawless. In going seven innings Sunday, his pitch count remained consistent from 19 in the second to a game-low 8 in the fourth and finished with a very efficient 92 pitches
“My job is to hang zeros and give our offense a chance to squeeze some runs for us,” Gallen said after his Sunday effort over the Rockies. “Felt good and sharper as the game went along. Made a few adjustments throughout the game and things started to click with the curveball and slider.”
Offensively, the key hit was a two-run double in the second from backup catcher Jose Herrera, his first major league RBI. That provided Gallen with a three-run cushion and the rest, as they say, is history.
At the top of the rotation, Gallen, along with Madison Bumgarner (1.50 ERA) and Merrill Kelly (1.22), continue to put up staggering numbers. Coming into Sunday’s game, Arizona starters possessed a collective 2.33 ERA, and that is second in the majors. Only Dodgers’ starters (1.86) have a lower ERA. Through their opening 28 games, opposing batters are hitting .200 against Arizona starers. Last season at the same point, batters were hitting at a.257 pace.
When the early production of the starters remains at a high level, there is a temptation to align with energy and dynamism. Gallen does not see results that way but also notes there is a competitive edge to each of the starters.
“When you see pitchers doing well, you want to do your part,” Gallen added. “You don’t want to be the weak link. I think this is going through the whole clubhouse. The pitching staff is trying to bring that edge and let it overflow to the rest of the clubhouse.”
While Gallen’s workmanship and tenacity are commanding, his production is not a mystery.
“I have seen (Gallen) do what he is doing in spurts,” said manager Torey Lovullo. “He gets on really nice runs. I think last year was interrupted by a couple of injuries that held him back. He is capable of something like this. It’s a good run. This is because of the hard work and everything he is doing with no one is watching. And, he is executing. He’s on a great run.”
Welcome to The Show – prior to Sunday’s game, the Diamondbacks recalled outfielder Alek Thomas, regarded as the organization’s number one prospect, from AAA Reno. With Thomas’ promotion, the club placed catcher Carson Kelly on the injured reserved list with a strained left oblique. At AAA, Thomas was hitting .277 with four homers and 14 RBIs. “Excited to be here and waited for this moment for a long time,” Thomas said before Sunday’s game. “Glad I’m in the lineup when I immediately got here and happy they put faith in me to help win the game.” Thomas started, batted eight, and ended up 1-for-3 with a double, his first major league hit, to the base of the left-fence fence to open the fifth inning. Going forward, Thomas will likely play in center and Daulton Varsho is expected to do the majority of the catching. A timetable for Kelly’s return is to be determined. … The homestand continues with three against the Marlins. Righty Humberto Castellanos (2-1, 4.12) opens for Arizona and opposes right-hander Eliser Hernandez (2-1, 6.66) on Monday night. In the middle game, look for lefty Madison Bumgarner (1-1, 1.50) to face lefty Jesus Luzardo (2-2, 3.04). For the series finale Wednesday afternoon, Merrill Kelly (3-1, 1.22) takes on righty Sandy Alcantara (2-2, 3.03). Then, the Chicago Cubs are in for three to complete the current homestand.