Gallen makes no excuses for learning curve

July 23rd, 2021

CHICAGO -- The excuse was teed up for him to use, but was not having any of it.

The D-backs' right-hander is his own toughest critic, and it is what has made him so good at such a young age, but it's also what makes games like Friday afternoon's 8-3 loss to the Cubs hard for him to take.

Gallen, who faced the Cubs less than a week ago, was roughed up for seven runs over four innings.

Afterward, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said that it's been hard for Gallen to find his consistency this year given that he has had two stints on the injured list.

"He seems like just when he gets into a rhythm, he’s taking a step back with some sort of odd injury, unpredictable injury," Lovullo said. "It’s like anything in life, once you get rolling, you get in a rhythm and start moving in a positive direction you want to keep that momentum and that feeling.

"Unfortunately, that’s been interrupted. I think it’s been a little bit of a bumpy road for him. We’ve seen some very, very good outings, we know what he’s capable of doing."

It's a theory that probably has some validity with Gallen's start to the season delayed by a small fracture in his right forearm and then a six-week stretch from May 7-June 17 when a sprained right elbow kept him out of action.

Gallen wasn't willing to go there.

"The easy answer would be to say yes, but I don't think so," Gallen said. "I just think I'm sometimes just not making good pitches. Yeah, obviously, it would be easier just to kind of be in the flow of the season, but I wouldn't [blame] the starts and stops with how that performance has gone."

The one thing Gallen will say the injuries have hampered is his ability to spend time working on perfecting things. A constant tinkerer who is always looking to get better, he uses his time between starts to try and find the smallest ways to get better.

Not being able to throw for periods of time limited that, and Gallen was a little out of sync with his delivery in the series opener. It's something he planned to address by watching video Friday night or Saturday morning.

It's also worth noting that the Cubs have an experienced lineup and no doubt made some adjustments having just seen him six days ago.

That showed up in the first inning, when Javier Báez jumped on a first-pitch cutter/slider and drove it over the wall in left. While it was a pitch in the middle of the plate, it was down, just below the zone, but Báez seemed ready for it.

It was a contrast to Gallen's last outing against the Cubs, when he allowed one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings.

"It's tough when you've got to face a team twice in five days," Gallen said. "[Báez] probably knew the game plan for the most part because of how we attacked him a few days ago. It's just really, ultimately, I just didn't get it to where I needed it to be. It needed to be down away; it was more just middle down. And, you know, the swing he took looked like he was looking for it. So, he got the pitch he was looking for."

Lovullo and the D-backs are confident that when Gallen takes the ball again in five days, this outing will be a distant memory.

"I think the best part about him is he learns from days like today and keeps moving forward," Lovullo said. "Once he gets into that rhythm, he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch."