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Zac Gallen to Arizona: Don't Be Disappointed


Of all the players changing zip codes prior to the MLB Trade Deadline, Zac Gallen was not on anyone's list as a potential mover. As a promising young rookie off to a good start for a talent-starved team, it's befuddling why the Marlins chose to trade a young, controllable arm like him.

There are adequate reasons, which I'll outline below, but the bottom line for fantasy owners, especially in dynasty leagues, is that his value is somewhat in question now. He moves out of pitcher's park and away from the organization that had been grooming him in order to compete for a rotation spot in the desert.

On the other side, the fish did receive high-profile prospect Jazz Chisolm, who now rightfully lands on many radars based on the quick path to playing time. Let's take a look at both players in more detail to determine how to approach them in keeper leagues.

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Gallen's Rookie Season (So Far)

Prior to his call-up, I did an in-depth profile on Gallen around mid-May. That's when he was dominating Triple-A with a 1.79 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and 11 K/9. Even then, I was cautious about his big-league potential because he was never touted as an elite prospect and doesn't have electric velocity to fall back on when his control isn't there. Next time, I'm throwing caution to the wind.

Gallen made his Marlins debut with a strong start against the Cardinals that saw him allow just one run and five hits over five innings. In seven Major League starts so far, he hasn't given up more than three runs in a game and has been stretched out to seven innings in each of his last two outings. Not only are the ratios there (2.72 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), they are accompanied by a 28.5% K-rate.

Despite having less-than-stellar fastball velocity, ranking in the 19th percentile at 92.3 MPH, he uses his four-seamer less than half the time. He throws hitters off balance with a cutter, curve, and change combo and has maintained an xwOBA of .320 or less on all four pitches. While his changeup is most effective at inducing whiffs, they all sit above 20% in swing-and-miss rate.

 

Dynasty Value Drying Up?

The biggest change for Gallen will be his home park. Marlins Park, a notorious pitcher's park, has mostly played as such this season. It ranks 54th in Home Run Factor for right-handed hitters and 57th for left-handed hitters. Arizona's Chase Field was once known as Coors Lite but the humidor truly has made a difference; it ranks 44th and 48th in Home Run Factor for RHB and LHB respectively. When looking at Run Factor though, Arizona has actually been better for pitchers (35 and 53) than Miami (18 and 33).

Gallen isn't really a ground-ball pitcher, so the lower HR Factor could make a slight difference. In all, much of this can be ignored because a home team's offensive capability plays a large role in these park factors. The bottom line is that Gallen won't necessarily be worse off moving from the beach to the desert.

With Zack Greinke gone, Gallen has a chance to step in and become the next... Zack Greinke. OK, it's a stretch to assume he'll ever reach that caliber but he will at least hold down a mid-rotation spot for the foreseeable future and figures to be a relatively safe SP for fantasy leagues. Gallen is a firm hold for those who own him in keeper leagues and is worth pursuing if the Gallen owner in your league is nervous about his post-trade value.

 

Talkin' All That Jazz

As mentioned above, in exchange for a 23-year-old starting pitcher under club control who had been impressive as a rookie, the Marlins got back one player: Jazz Chisolm. This was met with skepticism by the baseball community, as it seemed the Marlins were Marlins-ing again. In reality, this trade made all the sense in the world for Derek Jeter and company.

First, while young starters with excellent control are hard to come by, the club is suddenly in a position of wealth. Aside from Gallen, Jordan Yamamoto debuted this season and has been even better up until his last three starts. He may be hitting a wall in his rookie year but he should prove to be a dependable fourth or fifth starter behind Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, and eventually, Sixto Sanchez. The Marlins now find themselves with a bigger need to address than pitching - shortstop.

The team has used a combination of Miguel Rojas, J.T. Riddle, and Jon Berti at the most important defensive position, getting little offense in return. The keystone is set for years to come with impressive prospect Isan Diaz getting the call days ago, so Chisolm figures to be the last piece of the puzzle for a team that is building to compete in 2022 (no, seriously).

Jazz Chisolm was rated the top prospect in the Diamondbacks' minor league system by Baseball America before the 2019 season. By contrast, Gallen was ranked 18th in the Marlins' lowly farm system. This already implies that the ceiling is much higher. Then again, the floor is much, much lower.

Chisolm is a fluid athlete at 5'11", 165 lbs yet has high-end raw power (55) for such a diminutive middle infielder. The problem is that he strikes out a lot. He has been sent packing to the dugout 33.8% of the time this year at Double-A and has finished with a K-rate over 30% at two other stops already. The Marlins must have visions of a Chisolm/Diaz double-play combo putting up 50 combined homers. That may come at the expense of the team's overall OBP, however. Diaz ranks at a 60 in raw power but his K-rate has lived in the upper 20s throughout his minor-league career prior to 2019.

Chisolm is just 21 and has another year or two before he cracks the Marlins' roster but he is in position to inherit the shortstop job if he can find ways to improve his contact. He must be considered a boom-or-bust prospect at this point. In a format like Ottoneu where 4x4 scoring is common (without steals as a category) and power is prioritized, Chisolm is worth a stash in case he pans out.

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