All Stars still belong to fans
July 10, 2018 3:11 AM
by Ramon Scott
It seems everyone has a say these days in who will play in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Nowadays, basically, the fans choose the starters, the players pick the pitchers and the backups, and the Commissioner fills in the gaps with other reserves, such as making sure every team is represented and replacements are made according to the latest bargaining agreement.
Not represented in the selection process – in a change from past years – are the managers, who were prone to add their own players in marginal choices because their teams were likely in the running for the postseason, thus meriting the skippers’ claim for their inclusion.
This year’s game, next Tuesday (July 17) at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will feature a very reasonable mix of veteran, almost aging stars, along with a proliferation of young talent, which has honestly energized the league at a time when hits are the hardest to come by in over 45 years.
Managers A.J. Hinch of the Astros and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers still will choose the starting pitcher for the respective squads.
Max Scherzer of the Nationals figures to be the choice to start for Roberts, but Hinch can rely on a bevy of starters, which could lead the American League to its sixth-straight victory.
Luis Severino of the Yankees has had an All-Star first half with his 14-2 record, a 2.12 ERA. But the junior circuit is so stacked with starters that after Chris Sale, Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber were also named to the team, Charlie Morton, James Paxton and Blake Snell were left off the original team, although more than one could be added as a replacement.
The Astros’ Jose Altuve received the most votes from the fans, but superstars Bryce Harper of the hometown Nats and Mike Trout were easy choices for the fans, which get one more chance to vote, picking one final all-star for each team this week. On that ballot are several of the other possible snubs, including Andrelton Simmons and Max Muncy.
Other interesting all-star tidbits include the election of Orioles’ SS Manny Machado, who could be on the move to the Dodgers or another NL team, which could hinder his participation; the Dodgers’ vet Matt Kemp was selected to the starting lineup by the fans; Harper makes his sixth appearance, but first in front of his Washington fans.
NATIONALS (-130, 9u15) at PIRATES (Wed., 9:35): Both pitchers have struggled of late, as the Bucs’ Trevor Williams has lost three straight with an ERA of 8.31 in those starts, while the Nats’ Gio Gonzalez hasn’t earned a win since May 28 and has an ERA of 9.00 in his last three starts. However, the Pirates were down 8.25 units to lefties this season. WAS, 5-4
PHILLIES (+101, 7o15) at METS (Wed., 4:10): Mets have been dismal at home, dropping nearly 20 units entering the week at Citi Field. Jake deGrom, despite a 1.79 ERA this season for New York, is down nearly eight units on the season. The Phils’ Vince Velasquez has a 2.79 ERA on the road, but Michael Conforto has homered twice off of him in just 7 ABs. PHL, 4-3
DIAMONDBACKS (+105, 10.5) at ROCKIES (Thu., 12:10): Kyle Freeland has had some much-talked-about issues with walks, but maybe that is part of his formula for pitching at home in Colorado, where he has a 2.89 ERA this season. Zack Godley has a 5.82 ERA on the road but pitched well here with eight Ks in 5-2/3 innings against the Rocks on June 10. COL, 5-4
RAYS (-160, 7.5o20) at TWINS (Thu., 5:10): Snell was a snub after Wilson Ramos won the AL fan vote at C, but Tampa deserves better with now .500 record in tough East. Snell is 12-4 with a 2.09 ERA and is up nearly 7.25 units for backers. Twins’ Kyle Gibson struck out nine to beat Baltimore last out but is 1-4 with a 4.44 ERA at home. TB, 4-3
TIGERS (+180, 8u15) at HOU ASTROS (Fri., 5:10): Dallas Keuchel has won his last two starts but is down 4.5 units this season since Houston’s always laying the big chalk similar to here. The Tigers’ Mike Fiers is a gambler’s favorite, up over 10 units this season, and has been very good of late, allowing just one earned run in each of his last three starts. HOU, 4-3
REDS (+160, 8) at CARDS (Sat., 1:10): The Cards’ Carlos Martinez isn’t an All-Star this season, but he comes in with a three-game winning streak and a home ERA of 2.38. Luis Castillo has had good success against this expected lineup, allowing just a .222 average over 66 PAs, but he has a 6.70 ERA on the road this season. STL, 5-3
YANKS (-108, 9) at INDIANS (Sat, 4:15): C.C. Sabathia, who has a 3.02 ERA, has fared very well against this group of Indians’ bats, allowing just a .214 average over 222 PAs. Mike Clevenger was very good against New York on May 6, striking out 10 and allowing 2 ER over 7.1 innings in a no-decision. NYY, 5-4
A’S (+170, 7.5) at GIANTS (Sat., 7:05): Madison Bumgarner got the win on Sunday after sharps took .25 off a -145 opener despite obvious two-thirds public support at the window for the Giants. Frankie Montas has been promising over seven starts despite a 1.46 WHIP, but allowed no walks in decent effort taking loss at Indians on Sunday. SF, 4-3
BLUE JAYS (+170, 10o20) at RED SOX (Sat., 10:05): Boston’s Hector Velazquez gets a start after going 6-0 out of the ‘pen this season with a 2.76 ERA in 45.2 innings, as he will be in line for a short stint here. Toronto’s Marcus Stroman has had three starts since returning from the DL and was 1-6 with a 6.67 ERA this season into Tuesday’s start at Atlanta. BOS, 6-4
ANGELS (+120, 7.5) at DODGERS (Sun., 1): Rich Hill, who left after five innings with a stiff neck in a home win over Pittsburgh on July 4, had a 4.56 ERA heading into Tuesday at SD. Garrett Richards struck out eight on July 4 in a win at Seattle and has limited the Dodgers to a .147 avg. over 41 PAs. Angels down 14 units to LH starters entering the week. LAD, 4-3