Tonight in Arlington, Texas, the World Series is set to kick off between the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. When Arizona takes the field in the bottom of the first to face off against the Rangers’ offense, a familiar face will likely be on the mound.
Thanks to two wins on the road in a hostile Philadelphia environment, the Diamondbacks and former UNC pitcher Zac Gallen overcame a deficit to win the NLCS and advance to the franchise’s first World Series since 2001. Now tonight, he’s set to get the start in Game 1 of this year’s Fall Classic.
Gallen will be looking to bounce back as, while his team won, he struggled a bit in the NLCS. In Game 1 of that series, he gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings as the Phillies beat them in Philadelphia. In Game 5 back in Arizona, he was tagged for four runs in six innings as the Phillies took what seemed like a crucial 3-2 lead in the series. However, Gallen’s teammates picked up the slack and rallied, and now the Tar Heel is headed to the biggest stage in baseball. In Arizona’s two rounds prior to that, Gallen had put in two good outings in wins over the Brewers and Dodgers.
As long as there are no hiccups and Gallen does take the mound, he will be the first former Tar Heel pitcher to start a World Series game since Matt Harvey in 2015. Then with the Mets, Harvey made two starts in that year’s series. He was okay in Game 1, but took a no decision after the game went 14 innings. He returned to the mound in Game 5 with the Mets down 3-1 in the series, and put in a gem, with eight scoreless innings. He was sent out for the ninth, looking for a complete game to keep the Mets alive, but was pulled after allowing a run, to cut New York’s lead to 2-1. Their bullpen melted down after that, and the Royals ended up winning the game and series. For Gallen’s sake, hopefully the next couple weeks don’t play out quite that way for him.
Earlier this season, a strong first half saw Gallen named the National League’s starter in this year’s MLB All-Star Game. He is now set to become the first pitcher to start that game as well as Game 1 of the World Series since Chris Sale in 2018.
Gallen is set to be UNC’s only representative in this year’s Fall Classic, so from some extremely Carolina Blue-tinted glasses, best of luck to him and the D-Backs.