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UNC Baseball: Checking in on the Tar Heels in MLB

Two Heels in particular have been standouts in the bigs this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The College World Series may still have a few games left, but unfortunately the North Carolina Tar Heels baseball season has been over for a little while now, after their elimination back in Super Regionals. While everyone was undoubtedly disappointed that they didn’t make it to Omaha, they still had a good season, fighting back after a losing stretch that could’ve doomed most teams.

While the college baseball season is coming to an end, the summer in general is just getting getting going, and professional baseball is in full swing. As we somewhat near the halfway point in the MLB season, let’s check in on the Tar Heels in the big leagues and see how they’ve done so far in 2022.

We’ll start with the two Tar Heels having the best season, both of which merit serious considering for a spot in the upcoming All-Star Game.

After a breakout 2020 season that got him NL Cy Young Award votes, Diamondbacks’ starting pitcher Zac Gallen fell back a bit in 2021. However, he’s rebounded in a big way this season and has been excellent for Arizona.

Gallen has put up a 2.92 ERA in 71.0 innings, recording 71 strikeouts. He’s really only had two bad days, with 10 of the 23 earned runs allowed coming in those two particular games. While he doesn’t have quite that many pitching wins, Arizona has won eight of the 13 games Gallen has started, which is a quarter of the 32 total wins the Diamondbacks have. They’re not a great team, and Gallen has kept them in, if not outright won them games several times.

With every team guaranteed to get at least one player on the All-Star teams, Gallen stands a good shot at being Arizona’s representative. He’s top 10 in all of the NL in ERA. The Diamondbacks have a couple other players having good seasons, but Gallen has a very good argument to get the spot.

The other Tar Heel with a real chance to head to LA for the Midsummer Classic is Rockies’ reliever Daniel Bard.

One of the best stories in baseball in recent years, Bard had been out of the majors from 2014-19, but made it back in 2020, and is now in the midst of an excellent season this year. In 26 appearances out of the bullpen, Bard has a 1.98 ERA, and has struck out 31.5% of the batters he’s faced. He’s been especially impressive of late, having allowed just one (unearned) run and just four hits in 14 innings since May 18th. He’s recorded 14 saves on the season, tied for fourth in the NL at time of writing.

As for his All-Star chances, the Rockies’ representative will probably come down to him or first baseman C.J. Cron, who also has a good case.

Besides those two, there’s Trent Thornton, who’s put up some solid numbers out of the bullpen on a Blue Jays’ team that is in good position to make the playoffs. Jacob Stallings has been the regular catcher for a Marlins’ team that’s been hot lately. Brewers’ reliever Trevor Kelley has thrown 6.1 consecutive scoreless innings after getting off to a slow start to the season. Brothers Brian and Colin Moran have both made appearances in the bigs, but both are now currently in the minor leagues systems of the Angels and Reds respectively.

We’ll be sure to keep an eye on all the various MLB Tar Heels over the remaining couple months of the season.