The road to D-backs ace Zac Gallen’s 1st All-Star selection

Jul 3, 2023, 8:42 AM

Zac Gallen...

Starting pitcher Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks sits in the dugout during the second inning of the MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field on May 14, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen is now All-Star Zac Gallen.

He was selected to represent the D-backs and the National League at the Midsummer Classic on Sunday for the first time in his MLB career.

Gallen said it would be an honor to make the team and an experience he’ll never forget while on air with Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta last week.

But how’s it possible for someone with two top-10 finishes in the Cy Young voting to have never made it before?

It mostly has come down to timing.

Gallen quickly opened eyes after joining the D-backs at the 2019 trade deadline, as Arizona sent away top prospect Jazz Chisolm.

In his first start, Gallen threw five scoreless innings. He flirted with a no-hitter in start No. 6 with Arizona, keeping the Padres hitless through six innings and tossing seven one-hit frames.

After the D-backs traded Zack Greinke and saw Patrick Corbin walk in free agency, it appeared they had their future potential No.1 guy in the 24-year-old.


Then came the 60-game 2020 season, and there was no All-Star Game.

Had there been one, Gallen made a heck of a case to pitch in it. Only 18 pitchers tossed 70 frames that year, and Gallen had the third lowest ERA of the group at 2.75.

The young starter finished the year tied for No. 9 in the Cy Young voting despite having not pitched a full MLB season yet.


Gallen finally had the chance to start a 162-game season in the majors with Arizona in 2021, but it was a Murphy’s Law campaign in the desert.

The righty started the year on the 10-day injured list (forearm) and went back on the shelf in May (right elbow sprain). He started five games before the All-Star rosters were announced, and Arizona’s lone representative at the event was Eduardo Escobar.

Gallen went back on the IL a third time (hamstring), and the D-backs had their second worst season only ahead of 2004.


Last year, Gallen finally made his case with close to a half-season’s worth of starts, and it went well early.

Gallen allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his first 10 starts with a 2.40 ERA after his first start was pushed back. The D-backs won seven of those games and were 26-29, much improved from the 110-loss 2021.

But it didn’t happen for Gallen, and what stuck out were his final three starts before the All-Star pitching staffs for each league were announced.

He allowed 13 earned runs in 16 innings which ballooned his ERA from 2.79 to 3.62.

The D-backs dropped to 37-47, and reliever Joe Mantiply (1.24 ERA through June) snagged their mandatory All-Star bid instead of the ace pitcher.

Gallen’s hot streak, frankly, came in the wrong half of the season to make the Midsummer Classic, as his second half was one of the most dominant in baseball.

He rattled off a 44.1-innings scoreless streak, the Diamondbacks franchise record. He did not break in any start, allowing three runs or fewer in his final 15 outings.

Gallen finished No. 5 in the Cy Young race, which he said was too low in his opinion.

He even told the Foul Territory podcast in May that he kept a list of voters who did not vote for him in case he needs an extra edge.

But it finally happened this year.

Gallen, described as a perfectionist, a prudent game planner and one of the three best starters in baseball by pitching coach Brent Strom, is an All-Star.

Manager Torey Lovullo was even wearing a Gallen shirt Sunday when he announced the news to his clubhouse.

Gallen entered Sunday in the NL’s top six in fWAR (3.3), WHIP (1.09), strikeouts (108) and ERA (3.02).

Now the question is whether or not he will start the game along with D-backs rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll.

“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t something that crossed my mind,” Gallen said. “We would have to weigh the decision if I was given the opportunity, the health concerns of it. As much as the All-Star Game is an honor and starting it is a bigger honor, we have some bigger things on our plate. That would just be a conversation between me and the staff.”

The All-Star Game is set for July 11 in Seattle, and Arizona has three representatives before replacements with Gallen, Carroll and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

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The road to D-backs ace Zac Gallen’s 1st All-Star selection