D-backs’ Mike Hazen not worried about Zac Gallen adjusting to new tempo

Apr 7, 2023, 4:49 PM

Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on after allowing a solo homerun by Nelson Cruz #3...

Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on after allowing a solo homerun by Nelson Cruz #32 of the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 04, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The first full week of MLB action is a time of excitement and plentiful overreactions, and Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen is a great candidate for the latter.

Gallen finished No. 5 in the National League Cy Young race last year, but his first two outings of 2023 have not been without warts.

He allowed five earned runs in 4.2 frames on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium and four earned runs in six frames Tuesday at Petco Park.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen laughed at the idea of being worried about Gallen at this point on Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke, but he explained there is an adjustment to make.

“There’s been a lot of runs scored … I think of that’s probably an adjustment to the new pace of the game,” Hazen said.

“For the guys who have not lived the rules — Drey Jameson, Ryne Nelson, those guys have lived the rules, they’ve already done it, which is pitching at a much quicker pace than certain guys have. I do think that is a real adjustment. You look around at some of the starters in this league that have given up a ton of runs early … I think there’s still an adjustment that is needed.”

Hazen pointed out that Gallen could be deliberate at times on the mound over the past three-plus seasons in Arizona but had no doubt the righty would make the right changes. Gallen told Wolf & Luke during spring training that there were going to be some bumps with the new rules but he had to adapt.

The GM said Gallen is and will continue to be Arizona’s best starting pitcher.

Gallen’s fastball has averaged 93.1 mph, a point down from last year’s 94.1 mph with a lower spin rate. Again, it has been two starts, and Gallen did not make any major changes to his offseason routine other than starting to throw a bit earlier.

Hazen felt conditioning was not the issue given Gallen’s offseason workout regiment. He evaluated that it’s about getting used to the rhythm of a faster game and being as effective as he has been.

Plus some of Gallen’s earned runs can be chalked up to misfortune and better offense.

The the 8-2 Opening Day loss for Arizona, Dodgers catcher Will Smith poked a two-run single to right on a pitch well off the outside corner and another RBI base hit on a slider even further distanced from the plate in the fifth.

The righty also walked three batters in the season debut with moments of brilliance sprinkled in between.

Against the Padres on Tuesday, Gallen left a pair of pitches in dangerous locations that were sent over the wall in an 8-6 win.

Gallen’s next crack is scheduled for Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field.

Arizona’s four-game series against L.A. continues Friday night at 6:40 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM and 98.7 FM HD-2.

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