Clayton Kershaw threw a complete game on Sunday, but the fact that he pitched at all eliminated the possibility the Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander would start for the NL in the All-Star Game tonight.
Even if he had been available, however, he wasn’t going to start, according to Chicago Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon, who’ll be managing the National League in the Midsummer Classic.
“Truth be told, I looked at it pretty closely. I have a ton of respect for Mr. Kershaw, also,” Maddon said Monday, “... but if you just broke down the numbers, I am being honest, I had already chosen Max, based on what I had just read numerically.
“It's hard to argue, Kershaw has had a wonderful year. This guy is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, just as [Scherzer] is probably going to be, too.
“But if you want to know my honest opinion, I'm giving it to you right now, based on the numbers, I thought this was the right way to go.”
Scherzer, who finished the first half of his third season in D.C. (10-5) with a 2.10 ERA, a 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 1⁄3 IP, said he was “tickled”, yes, “tickled” to even be an All-Star (for the fifth straight season). To learn that he was going to start for the National League?
“It's unbelievable to get the nod,” the 32-year-old Nats’ ace told reporters in Miami.
“This is such an incredible accomplishment. When you walk in this clubhouse and you're with all the All-Stars, you're tickled to be in that clubhouse with that recognition.
“When you have a manager say, ‘We're going to give you the ball,’ it's icing on the cake.
“For me to have the opportunity to go out there and represent the National League, this is stuff you never forget. And when you get the opportunity -- I'm kicking at the dirt to be able to go out there and pitch.”
Scherzer is determined to enjoy his All-Star experience, which described as a “party for like 72 hours,” but after his outing in the Midsummer Classic and a couple days off, it’s back to work in the second half, something that the right-hander said last week he was looking forward to as well, especially the challenge of adjusting to how the rest of the league adjusts to him.
“I’ve had a great first half,” Scherzer said, “I’ve gone out there, accomplished new things, I’m throwing the ball well, but I also know the rest of the league is making adjustments against me.
“It’s going to be a fight in the second half, because they’ve seen the way I’m pitching a little bit differently, and now they’re making adjustments to that.
“It’s going to be a grind in the second half, especially in the division, they’re going to keep grinding you apart, so I’ve got to find new ways to even getting better.
“On one hand, I can say I’ve had a great half, but on the other, I know how much is in front of me with the rest of the season.”
But first, he’s got a big challenge ahead of him going up against the American League’s hard-hitting lineup in Miami’s Marlins Park tonight.
Even if he only goes one inning, it looks like fans will be treated to a matchup between Scherzer and New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge, who’s batting third for the AL.
Scherzer said he was looking forward to the challenge.
“I mean, it's impressive,” Scherzer said. “I mean, I've seen it from afar, the year he's had so far. Obviously been the best hitter there in the American League. I think they will all agree with that. I enjoy facing the best. It's what you look for. I mean, you get a chance to obviously be in the All-Star Game to face the best hitter in the game, potentially, that's what you look for. So it will be fun.”
One night of fun, especially now that home field isn’t being decided in an exhibition, and then it’s back to business on Friday night in Cincinnati, where the Nationals kick off the second-half.