Last week, Arizona Diamondbacks and former North Carolina Tar Heels’ pitcher was selected for his first MLB All-Star Game. Well on Monday, he got some even bigger news surrounding this year’s Midsummer Classic. Yesterday, National League manager Rob Thomson announce that he had tabbed Gallen to be the NL’s starting pitcher in tonight’s game.
While some of the decision in who starts at pitcher an All-Star Game comes down when a pitcher made their last regular season start, Gallen is a very worthy choice for the NL’s spot. Through his last start on Friday, Gallen has a 3.04 ERA in 118.1 innings for the Diamondbacks. He leads the league in several categories, including wins as well as some more advanced stats like WHIP and FIP.
It’s been a fairly rapid rise for Gallen over the past couple seasons. Having been included in two trades before landing with the Diamondbacks, he’s gone from good starter to great in the last year and change. While he still has another season or so of this before he’s listed among the sport’s current best, he’s been excellent of late.
With his selection, Gallen becomes the first Tar Heel to start an All-Star Game since Matt Harvey similarly got the NL’s starting pitcher nod in 2013. In that game, Harvey struck out three batters in two scoreless innings. Those two, Brian Roberts (AL second base, 2005), and Walt Weiss (NL shortstop, 1998) are the only former UNC players to start an All-Star Game at any position since the events beginning. (Even with Roberts, you could put an asterisk on him considering that he transferred out of UNC and to South Carolina after two seasons.)
In the game, Gallen will be matched up against AL starter Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees. As far as his chances at winning something like the game’s MVP awards, the odds are up against him. The last time one of the game’s starting pitchers took home that award was Pedro Martínez in 1999. Even if Gallen goes in and balls out, the odds are just generally stacked against the starting pitchers, even though they arguably have the ASG’s biggest honor.
Either way, Gallen getting to start the game is very cool for him and for UNC fans that watched him on the mound in Chapel Hill years ago. You can watch him take part in the event tonight at 8 PM ET on FOX.