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Diamondbacks Pitcher of the Year: Zac Gallen

The first unanimous vote in the history of the SnakePit Awards

Seattle Mariners v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Clearly making people attach their usernames to their vote resulted in a general degree of conscientiousness. Technically, it was unanimous across qualified ballots. While there was one vote from Keury Mella, the username attached to that was “Yasmany Tomas”. I have no clue at all who that is, but they are definitely not a member of the SnakePit. Probably some loser somewhere. Otherwise, it was Gallen across the board, to the extent that GuruB voted for him twice. And, really, it’s hard to argue with the result. Zac achieved something which even Paul Goldschmidt didn’t manage in his MVP-caliber seasons with the Diamondbacks. However, he was obviously the best pitcher on the team this year.

Wesley already wrote about and analyzed Gallen’s overall numbers earlier in the week, so I’m not going to go that way again. We also covered his best start of the season, when his one-hit outing against the Dodgers won Performance of the Year. That game was also h is 23rd consecutive start allowing three or fewer earned runs, a major league record for the beginning of any pitcher’s career. The streak ended in his next outing, a loss to the San Francisco Giants, though it was not entirely Gallen’s fault; a bases-loaded walk from Junior Guerra, who replaced Zac on the mound, brought in the Giants’ fourth run, to put the record-setting roll to bed.

Gallen also went undefeated in his first eight starts of 2020, the best run to open a campaign by a Diamondback, since Patrick Corbin in 2013. Zac only picked up one victory in that time, but certainly deserved a better fare, considering this was his line over the seven no-decisions:
Zac Gallen: 43 IP, 27 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 14 BB, 49 SO, 1.88 ERA
Yep, 0-0 in that time is a travesty, especially as the D-backs won four of the seven games. The ERA was more than half a run lower than any other starting pitcher with that many no decisions in 2020 [At the other end was Michael Fulmer who had a 7.15 ERA in his eight no-decisions!]

Those games were also part of a 14-outing run, dating back to August 2019, where Gallen posted a Game Score of 50 or better every time he pitched. That was the longest such streak for Arizona since 2003, when Brandon Webb went sixteen in a row. Here are Zac’s five best outings last year by Game Score.

#5. August 22 @ San Francisco - Game Score 64

This one seemed unlikely, as three batters in, Gallen has loaded the bases on walks, throwing only three strikes in his first 15 pitches. But he got out of the jam only allowing one run, and that was it through six innings, Gallen giving up three hits and a walk to the next 21 batters faced. The D-backs tied things up in the top of the seventh, to get Gallen off the hook for a loss. But Matt Grace and Guerra crapped the bed, taking six attempts between them before a hitter was retired, in a four-run seventh as San Francisco won 5-1.

#4. August 28 vs. San Francisco - Game Score 67

Six days later, Zac faced the same opposition and picked up his first win of the season. This time, he avoided the early control issues, and took a shutout into the sixth inning before Evan Longoria broke it up with a solo home-run. Gallen was crisply economical, needing only 92 pitches to get through seven innings, and for once got plenty of run support, as the D-backs jumped out to a 7-0 lead after five. Zac allowed five hits and a walk with five strikeouts, and though the bullpen made it interesting, Arizona won by a 7-4 margin.

#3. September 25 vs. Colorado - Game Score 70

In the opening game of a double-header at Chase Field, Gallen reached double-digits in strikeouts for the first time in his career. After the first batter reached on catcher’s interference, Gallen struck out the next three on a total of 14 pitches. He had at least one K in each of his six innings, scattering five hits and two walks. He had thrown only 90 pitches, and could perhaps have given the Diamondbacks a complete-game (this being a 7-inning contest). But Yoan Lopez and Stefan Crichton finished off the shutout instead, and Zac had his third and final win of the season.

#2. August 17 vs. Oakland - Game Score 74

Gallen was perfect the first time through the line-up, retiring the Athletics in order each of the opening three innings. He walked the leadoff man in the fourth, but still took a no-hitter into the sixth, when Austin Allen singled with one out. A solo home-run with two outs in the seventh ended Zac’s shutout, but he left the game with a 3-1 lead and six outs to get, looking set for the W. Hector Rondon and Andrew Chafin had other ideas, blowing the lead in the eighth, though David Peralta walked it off in the bottom of the ninth. Zac gave up only three hits and a walk over seven innings, with eight strikeouts.

#1. September 2 @ Los Angeles - Game Score 80

‘Nuff said. :)

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