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Nationals’ Max Scherzer starting 2017 MLB All-Star Game for National League...

Max Scherzer deserves this. Scherzer was named the NL’s starter for the 2017 MLB All-Star Game. He’ll be matched up against the Red Sox’ Chris Sale.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Just think about what could have been for a moment: Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo made a play for Chris Sale this winter, before the Chicago White Sox traded Sale to the Boston Red Sox.

On Tuesday night in Miami, Sale will oppose Max Scherzer when the two start for the American and National League All-Star teams, respectively, in the 2017 version of the Midsummer Classic. Imagine if they were both in the Nationals’ rotation?

GM Mike Rizzo did, but after the trade to the Red Sox, he explained that all the hard work on a proposed deal didn’t pay off.

“It’s quite a process,” Rizzo said.

“It’s a lot of work goes into all these trade talks and a lot of conversations, we put a lot of effort into it and thought we made a good, valiant effort at acquiring a really good pitcher and we fell short.”

The names bandied about before the deal went through included some of those (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez) who ended up going to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton deal.

“The caliber of pitcher available isn’t often [bandied] in the trade market,” Rizzo said when asked about his willingness to trade to prospects.

“[Sale] was a quality pitcher so you’re going to have to give up quality to get him and it was a move that you have three years of control of a really good pitcher so you’re going to have to give up a lot for him and we felt that we reached as far as we were going to reach in the trade and we fell short.”

It only cost the Nationals money (and a lot of it) to get Scherzer as a free agent back in the winter of 2014-15, when he signed a 7-year/$210M deal to pitch in the nation’s capital.

In three seasons with the Nationals, the right-hander, who’s an All-Star this season for the fifth straight year, is (44-24) with a 2.71 ERA, 2.92 FIP, and 773 Ks in 585 1⁄3 IP with Washington so far in three seasons.

Heading into the All-Star Break, the defending NL Cy Young award-winner is (10-5) with a 2.10 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 27 walks (1.89 BB/9), 173 Ks (12.13 K/9) and a .162/.224/.290 line against in 18 starts and 128 13 IP.

Sale, for what it’s worth, has an (11-4) record, with a 2.75 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 22 walks (1.55 BB/9), 178 Ks (12.55 K/9) and a .198/.241/.321 line against in 18 starts and 127 23 IP.

They would have made nice rotation mates, though Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg as a 1-2 punch isn’t bad...

Scherzer’s teammates, and fellow All-Stars, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper were asked last week (Stephen Strasburg is an All-Star too, but he was starting for the Nationals that day, so he wasn’t there) if they though the Nationals’ ace deserved to start for the National League?

“He’s pretty good,” Zimmerman said.

“He does okay,” Murphy added.

“I think he’s earned it, you look at the numbers,” Zimmerman said.

Apparently the NL’s skipper, Joe Maddon, agreed:

Harper, Murphy, and Zimmerman will be starting too for the National League. Here’s where they are Maddon’s lineup: