Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen’s Opening Day status is in doubt due to right shoulder discomfort, manager Torey Lovullo tells reporters (Twitter thread via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic). Gallen originally felt discomfort during the lockout, when he was unable to consult with team physicians, and underwent an MRI on his own. He was diagnosed with bursitis and is still dealing with some of the effects of that issue. He’ll throw off the mound within the next few days, at which point the Snakes will have a better sense of his timeline.
There’s little denying the talent of the 26-year-old Gallen, but this will mark the second straight season that he’s been limited by an arm injury of note. Gallen missed the first few weeks of the 2021 season with a hairline fracture in his forearm — an injury sustained while taking batting practice. He later spent more than a month on the injured list due to a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow — a far more ominous injury. Gallen returned and avoided arm troubles for the remainder of the season, but he did miss a couple weeks in July owing to a hamstring strain.
All told, that trio of injuries limited Gallen to 23 starts and a total of 121 1/3 innings. That still marked a career-high at the MLB level, as he was a midseason call-up in 2019 and didn’t have the opportunity to pitch a full workload of 30-plus starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
When he’s been on the mound, Gallen has been strong. In 273 1/3 Major League innings, he carries a 3.46 ERA with a 27.6% strikeout rate, a 9.6% walk rate and a 42.8% ground-ball rate. Gallen worked to a sub-3.00 ERA in each of his first two seasons in the big leagues, and his 2.75 mark through 72 innings in 2020 was enough to land him some down-ballot Cy Young votes, as evidenced by his ninth-place finish. Arizona controls Gallen through the 2025 season, and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until next winter.
Were Gallen to miss time early in the season, the D-backs would likely rely on Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly and Luke Weaver in the top three spots. Non-roster invitee Dan Straily seems likely to crack the roster, and the D-backs have a host of options in the fifth spot, including Tyler Gilbert, Corbin Martin, Humberto Mejia and Humberto Castellanos, among others.