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Diamondbacks Game Preview #140: 9/12 vs. Dodgers

Ryne Nelson makes start #2, and we look at Zac Gallen’s Cy Young chances

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Mookie Betts - 2B Carson Kelly - C
Trea Turner - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Freddie Freeman - 1B Jake McCarthy - RF
Will Smith - C Christian Walker - 1B
Max Muncy - 3B Emmanuel Rivera - 3B
Justin Turner - DH Stone Garrett - DH
Joey Gallo - LF Jordan Luplow - LF
Trayce Thompson - RF Alek Thomas - CF
Cody Bellinger - CF Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Tyler Anderson - LHP Ryne Nelson - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled OF Jordan Luplow from Triple-A Reno.
  • Designated INF Wilmer Difo for assignment.

Ryne Nelson’s MLB debut was better than anything he, we and everyone connected with the Diamondbacks could have hoped for. Seven shutout innings? That’ll do. Throw in the no walks and seven strikeouts and you are into almost unprecedented territory. The only previous pitcher to accomplish all that in their first game was Nick Kingham of the 2018 Pirates. But let’s hope Nelson’s career doesn’t follow a similar path. Though Kingham got the W in his second start, he was tagged for four runs in 5.1 innings. He threw only 131.2 innings in the majors, with a 6.08 ERA, and after his sophomore season of 2019, Nick has spent the last three years pitching in Korea.

Meanwhile, Zac Gallen’s 44.1 inning scoreless streak has forced himself into the discussion for the National League Cy Young. Going into the break, Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins seemed like a lock with his 1.74 ERA, ahead of Corbin Burnes’s 2.14 - Gallen’s 3.56 ERA languished down in 16th place among NL qualifiers. But since the All-Star game, both Alcantara and Burnes have ERA’s north of four, while Gallen has been below one - 0.97 to be precise. As a result, his 2.50 season figure now sits third, trailing just Julio Urias (2.30) and Alcantara (2.43). Urias has the edge in wins, with sixteen compared to twelve for the other two. But he and Alcantara also have seven losses; Gallen has only a pair of L’s.

Alcantara does have the edge in sheer workload, averaging better than seven innings a start, something almost unheard of these days. He has four complete games - more than any other TEAM in the majors this year. It’s one of the reasons his bWAR of 6.8 is 1.3 wins more than everyone else. Gallen sits sixth by that metric, with 4.7 bWAR. He occupies the same spot in fWAR, sitting at 3.9 fWAR: the leaders there are Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola at 5.4. If we combine the two and take the average, here are the figures for those who are ranked highly by both metrics [Interestingly, Urias is outside the top ten by both, rating 4.0 bWAR and 2.8 fWAR, for a 3.4 average]

2020 NL WAR leaders

Name Team fWAR bWAR Ave
Name Team fWAR bWAR Ave
Sandy Alcantara MIA 4.8 6.8 5.80
Aaron Nola PHI 5.4 5.0 5.20
Carlos Rodon SFG 5.4 4.9 5.15
Max Fried ATL 4.8 5.5 5.15
Zac Gallen ARI 3.9 4.7 4.30
Merrill Kelly ARI 3.6 4.5 4.05
Logan Webb SFG 3.7 4.3 4.00
Corbin Burnes MIL 4.0 3.5 3.75

It all seems very much to play for, with four weeks left in the season. If Gallen can keep up the stellar form he showed during August, he should certainly be in the Cy Young conversation. It has been a long time since we’ve been able to say that about any Arizona pitcher.