Arizona Diamondbacks ace right-hander Zac Gallen is one of the contenders for the National League Cy Young Award — he's just not pitching like it of late.
Fresh off a pair of disastrous outings, Gallen (14-7, 3.48 ERA) will look to get back on track Friday afternoon when the visiting Diamondbacks continue their four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
Arizona (73-68) recorded a 6-2 victory in the series opener on Thursday for its third win in four games. The result allowed the Diamondbacks to move a half-game ahead of both the Miami Marlins (72-68) and Cincinnati Reds (73-69) for the NL's third wild-card slot.
The Cubs (76-65) saw their four-game winning streak end as they dropped two games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (77-62) in the NL Central.
Gallen, 28, would like to add to Chicago's troubles and put an end to his own.
He allowed a season-high six earned runs on nine hits — including a career-worst four homers — in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-4 setback to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 28. He was blitzed again on Sunday, permitting five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
"I thought he actually had good stuff," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of Gallen's last start.
"I think they just waited Zac out and got the right pitch and got some extension on him. I don't necessarily think there was a lot of hard contact. I think some balls got hit in the right place at the right time."
Gallen is 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs.
Chicago right-hander Jameson Taillon (7-9, 5.73 ERA) will provide the opposition on Friday afternoon.
Signed to a four-year, $68 million contract, Taillon isn't providing much bang for the buck of late. He saw his winless stretch extend to five games on Sunday after he yielded five runs on seven hits — including three homers — in a no-decision against the Reds.
"There were probably too many strikes being thrown," Taillon said, per the (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Daily Herald. "I felt like for whatever reason I was having a hard time getting out of the strike zone a little bit. I was in good counts and stuff. I was just throwing too many strikes there for a bit."
Taillon has permitted 26 runs, 20 earned, and eight homers while going 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA in his last five outings.
He is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts against the Diamondbacks, but he hasn't faced them since 2019.
Taillon would be wise to tread carefully with Tommy Pham and Ketel Marte. Pham homered twice and joined Marte in collecting three RBIs apiece in the series opener.
Pham is 5-for-9 (.556) with six RBIs and five runs in the past two games. Marte is 9-for-23 (.391) with five RBIs and five runs in his past six games.
Chicago's Seiya Suzuki, who tripled and scored on Thursday, is 14-for-33 (.424) with three homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs this month.
—Field Level Media