As Opening Day looms less than a week away, the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation will look to step up in the absence of Zac Gallen.
Gallen, who suffered a hairline stress fracture and soreness in his forearm, is out for the foreseeable future until his arm is nursed back to full health. He is still playing low-intensity catch, but his timetable for a return is unkown.
With the possible absence in the D-backs rotation, other arms will be called upon to step up. Gallen burst onto the scene in a 2020 shortened season where he had an ERA of 2.75 in 12 starts.
As an emerging star in the rotation, Gallen also had 82 strikeouts compared to 25 walks in a year where he was a dark horse Cy Young candidate in the National League.
The loss of the talented right-handed arm is unfortunate for the D-backs, who are looking to develop and nurture much of their promising young talent over the coming years. Another one of those young pieces to the puzzle is Luke Weaver.
Weaver, who was acquired by the D-backs in December 2018 in the Paul Goldschmidt trade with St. Louis, is looking for a full campaign, and he will be integral in the absence of Gallen.
During his first year in Arizona in 2019, Weaver showed flashes of the promising prospect he could be, putting out a 2.94 ERA in 12 starts before being shut down for most of the year due to a forearm strain.
The D-backs were hoping to use that momentum going into 2020, but it wasn’t to be. Weaver had just one win and an ERA over six.
However, after one promising season and a down year in 2020, the right-handed arm out of Florida is looking to focus on 2021 and what lies ahead. Weaver has had a rough spring, but the page often flips going into the regular season for many players.
Weaver was roughed up on Thursday against the Kansas City Royals, surrendering seven runs in 5.1 innings, but he also had eight strikeouts.
“I know it wasn’t perfect,” said Manager Torey Lovullo of Weaver’s start. “We’re still going to try and get as much work as we possibly can in for these guys and not stop teaching…I think there were some good lessons that were learned between innings and you could see that there were positive results.”
People often take what they will from Spring Training appearances, but in order for the Diamondbacks to compete in an NL West that runs through the Dodgers and Padres, Weaver’s quality starts will be needed in the absence of Gallen.
It’s a challenge that he’ll look to embrace as Opening Day is right around the corner.
“Through success, it’s hard to learn some things,” Weaver said after his start on Thursday. “Through a little bit of a grinding Spring Training and getting hit around a little bit…definitely a lot to learn and I also think, ‘Hey we get them out of the way now, we don’t get them during the season.’”