Tonight was a matchup of two pitchers who found new teams at the conclusion of the trade deadline. Zac Gallen made his debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks after being acquired from the Miami Marlins for top ranked prospect Jazz Chisholm. Meanwhile, Jason Vargas was traded from one National League East team, the New York Mets, making his second start for another, the Philadelphia Phillies.
I have to say that out of all the moves Mike Hazen made at the deadline, I was most excited to watch Zac Gallen pitch, and he did not disappoint. Sean Testerman did a phenomenal job breaking down his potential from an analytics perspective earlier today, but nothing beats seeing it in action with your own two eyes. What really struck me about Gallen as a pitcher, before he even pitched his first game in a D’backs uniform, was how clean his mechanics are. He doesn’t have a ton of unnecessary movement in his delivery to the plate. Contrast that with Zack Godley who could hardly stay on the mound. His delivery appears, to me at least, to be relatively effortless which makes his velocity all that more impressive. Early in his start tonight his fastball velocity was sitting around 95 miles per hour with impressive command.
Gallen faced the minimum through the first two innings capitalized by striking out $300+ million dollar man Bryce Harper in the bottom of the first. Former D’back Jean Segura did manage a single off of Gallen in the top of the second for what would be the Phillies only hit off of Gallen, but was quickly erased on a line out double play to end that frame. After walking Scott Kingery to begin the top of the third, Gallen buckled down striking out Adam Haseley, Jason Vargas, and Corey Dickerson to conclude that frame.
Meanwhile, the D’backs got off to a slow start against Jason Vargas to begin the game even though they were managing hard contact against him. Vargas hit the first batter of the game he faced, Ketel Marte, and walked David Peralta in consecutive at bats in the bottom of the first. That brought the league RBI leader Eduardo Escobar to the plate, but he just missed adding to his tally by flying out at the left field warning track. The D’backs failed to bring in a run after having two on and no outs when Christian Walker grounded into a double play to end the bottom of the first. Adam Jones squared Vargas up nicely to begin the bottom of the second, but it was right at Haseley in center field, and then Wilmer Flores flied out to the warning track to continue the hard luck.
However, Arizona did pull through with consecutive two run innings in the third and fourth. Vargas hit Carson Kelly with a pitch to open the bottom of the third, already his second hit batter of the game. Gallen earned additional brownie points from me by laying down a perfectly executed bunt to advance Kelly to second base. Ketel Marte drew a walk to follow putting runners on first and second, and the D’backs still in search of their first hit in the game. David Peralta broke the seal with an RBI single to Bryce Harper scoring Kelly, and Eduardo Escobar brought Marte in with a sac fly to centerfield. Arizona continued its scoring in the bottom of the fourth on a trio of one out singles from Wilmer Flores, Nick Ahmed, and Carson Kelly giving Arizona the 3-0 lead. Gallen then came to the plate with runners on first and third and laid down his second consecutive successful bunt, this time down the third base line. Phillies third baseman Scott Kingery looked Ahmed back briefly, but once Kingery threw to first Ahmed successfully reversed course and scored pushing the score to 4-0 in favor of Arizona.
Gallen’s final inning of work was the top of the fifth as he eclipsed 80 pitches. Segura walked to open the top of the fifth, but Gallen retired Hernandez and Kingery on consecutive swinging punchouts and forced a Haseley groundout. That ensured that his Diamondbacks debut would be a scoreless outing and lowered his ERA to 2.40. I don’t want to overreact to just a single outing, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw from Gallen tonight. His delivery to the plate is smooth and effortless, and I hope this young man has a bright future ahead of him in a Diamondbacks uniform. Gallen’s final line on the evening after five innings pitched was three walks, six strikeouts, no earned runs, and only one hit. Very impressive.
The four run Arizona lead held through to the eighth inning. Arizona had a chance to bust the game wide open on a two out bases loaded opportunity in the bottom of the seventh, but Adam Jones struck out swinging to spoil that scoring chance. T.J. McFarland, Yoshihisa Hirano, and Andrew Chafin combined to hold the Phillies scoreless in innings six through eight. Arizona added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on two outs. Nick Ahmed pressed to advance from first to third on a single to center field from Jarrod Dyson. A wild diversion throw in attempt to catch Dyson wandering too far from first brought Ahmed in to score, and put Dyson at second. Marte followed with his own single to left field scoring Dyson pushing the lead to six runs.
Now that Greg Holland is no longer around to make the ninth inning unnecessarily exciting, Kevin Ginkel entered from the bullpen to shut the door on the Phillies. His task was difficult as he’d be facing the heart of the Phillies lineup. He struck out Rhys Hoskins to open the ninth, but Bryce Harper hit a shallow home run to left field killing the shutout opportunity. A walk to J.T. Realmuto prompted a mound visit, but Ginkel flashed his strong strikeout ability against Segura and Cesar Hernandez to secure the 6-1 victory.
Skyline: Zac Gallen, +24.3 WPA, 5.0 IP, 1 hit, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, 0 earned runs
Evo: David Peralta, + 20.7 WPA, 1-for-2, RBI, 2 walks
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With the victory, Arizona is once again only a game and a half out of a wild card spot. The Diamondbacks begin a challenging weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.