Despite win, D-backs in search of missing offense

Starters who were on the opposite ends of the headline spectrum at the trade deadline will meet in Phoenix when Arizona and Cincinnati play the rubber game a three-game series on Sunday.

Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer (10-12, 4.55 ERA) was among the group of high-profile pitchers who changed teams at the July 31 deadline, but he has been up-and-down in his eight starts since being acquired from Cleveland for Yasiel Puig.

Arizona’s Zac Gallen (3-5) is closing in on a major league rookie record after being acquired from Miami for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm at the deadline — a deal that flew well below the radar on a day in which the Diamondbacks traded Zack Greinke and also acquired Mike Leake.

The Diamondbacks (76-73) remain on the fringe of the National League wild-card race after ending a six-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory Saturday, in which they sent only 25 men to the plate. They remain 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card with 13 games to play. Cincinnati is 69-80.

“It’s no mystery we’ve been grinding,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo told reporters. “I don’t care how you win it right now. We’ll take it.”

The 24-year-old Gallen is the second pitcher in major league history to begin his career by giving up three runs or fewer in his first 14 starts. Montreal’s Steve Rogers (18, 1973) holds the record.

Gallen’s record is a reflection of his lack of support. He has received an average of 3.64 runs per nine innings, which would rank third-lowest in the majors if he qualified. He has thrown 74 1-3 innings in the majors this season after logging 91 at Triple-A New Orleans, the Marlins‘ Triple-A affiliate.

Gallen was named Baseball America’s Triple-A pitcher of the year after going 9-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 14 starts New Orleans.

Gallen throws four pitches, and will use each of them at last 15 percent of the time, according to FanGraphs, and the ability to locate has played well.

“It’s an aggressive, power spin-rate fastball when he needs it,” Lovullo said. “It’s a driven fastball when he needs it. He can throw to different spots in the zone, and on top of that he can spin a breaking ball. There are a ton of weapons there.”

Bauer has not found consistency since joining the Reds, going 1-4 with a 7.40 ERA while allowing 10 homers in 41 41/3 innings. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start in Seattle, a no-decision in which he limited the Mariners to three hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday with eight strikeouts and three walks.

“I’ve used the word ‘searching,'” Reds manager David Bell said, “for a feel for some of his pitches and just trying to get comfortable. We have a ton of confidence that he is going to be more than fine. Just one of those growth opportunities he is going through right now.”

With Bauer, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani and Sonny Gray, the Reds have the makings of a solid rotation in 2020.

Bauer is 0-1 with a 3.95 ERA in two career starts against Arizona.