2017 MLB ALL-STAR STARTING PITCHERS:
With home runs leaving to the park all around baseball to the point that Commissioner Rob Manfred has felt the need to address the idea that the balls are “juiced” on several occasions (saying they’re not), tonight’s starters, Max Scherzer for the National League, and Chris Sale for the American League, were asked if either of them had changed their approach when it comes to attacking hitters over the last few seasons?
“I'm gonna grip it as usual,” Sale told reporters in Miami on Monday.
“I give up my fair share of homers. You can check the book. It happens. If you let that creep in your mind, it's going to be a long night. I'm going to do the same thing I always have.”
“I agree,” Scherzer added. “The way I've been looking at it, ball is flying for whatever reason. I really don't care. I've given up a lot of homers over the past year and a half. That's really been something that's been a thorn in my side. I've had to become a better pitcher, locate better.”
Sale finished the first half of his first season in Boston, following this winter’s trade from the Chicago White Sox, with an (11-4) record, a 2.75 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 22 walks (1.55 BB/9), 178 Ks (12.55 K/9), a .198/.241/.321 line against and 11 home runs allowed (0.78 HR/9) in 18 starts and 127 2⁄3 IP.
Scherzer, the defending NL Cy Young award winner, went into the All-Star Break at (10-5) with a 2.10 ERA, a 2.61 FIP, 27 walks (1.89 BB/9), 173 Ks (12.13 K/9), a .162/.224/.290 line against, and 13 home runs allowed (0.91 HR/9) in 18 starts and 128 1⁄3 innings.
For Scherzer, that’s down from 21 HRs (1.48 HR/9) allowed in 127 2⁄3 in the first half in 2016.
“Because of the home run spike,” Scherzer said, “I've dialed it in even more to try to make my location better to try to prevent them.
“I think I have a hand in it, in not letting them hit as many homers out, and that's made me a better pitcher.”
Keeping the ball in the yard will be a challenge tonight in Miami, FL considering the lineups each starter, and the pitchers who come on after them, will be facing in the 88th edition of the Midsummer Classic.
MLB 2017 AMERICAN AND NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR LINEUPS:
HOW TO WATCH:
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be on FOX at 8:00 PM EDT, with a pregame show beginning at 7:30 PM.
WHAT TO WATCH — NATIONALS IN THE ASG:
You may have noticed the right side of the defense for the NL is completely covered by Nationals with Daniel Murphy at second, Ryan Zimmerman at first, and Bryce Harper in right field for the National League. Tune in early, because as always, the managers for both teams will sub players in to get everyone in the game, but four of the five Nats in the 2017 ASG will be on the field from the start.
THE QUOTABLE JOE MADDON ON DANIEL MURPHY’S SPOT IN THE LINEUP:
Chicago Cubs’ and National League skipper Joe Maddon ran through his lineup in Monday’s ASG press conference, giving a little quote about each player as he did.
Par exemple?: “No. 3, got to meet him for the first time standing by the bus a couple of days ago in Washington. KB [Kris Bryant] and him, both from the great state of Nevada. So we're going to have Bryce hit third, Mr. Harper.”
Maddon also had nice things to say about Ryan Zimmerman: “Mr. [Ryan] Zimmerman will hit seventh and play first base. Coming off a great season.”
Murphy, of course, put up a .529/.556/1.294 line with a double and four home runs in four games against Maddon’s Cubs in the 2015 NLCS, which the Mets won, sweeping Chicago in four straight.
WHAT NATIONALS FANS CAN WATCH FOR TONIGHT:
The one name we haven’t mentioned above? Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg took a liner off his hip in his last start, but on Monday he told veteran Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga that he had a little bruise, but he’d be available to pitch out of the ‘pen tonight if he’s called upon to do so.
“As far as I know, I’m available,” Strasburg said. “I don’t really know what the plan is. There’s a lot of pitchers here. If I get in, that would be awesome. But if I don’t, then I don’t.”
Strasburg out of the bullpen might be fun to watch for an inning, but please don’t say that he should be the Nationals’ closer if he does well in that role tonight. Please?
His only previous All-Star appearance is out of the ‘pen back in 2012, when he worked around a leadoff hit and two-out walk for a scoreless frame in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
Strasburg made the NL All-Star roster last season, but didn’t pitch because he was just coming off the DL, so Max Scherzer took his spot on the roster.
ENJOY THE GAME:
Follow with your fellow Nationals in the comments below, and enjoy the only baseball you’ll get until Friday night when the Washington’s Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds kick off the so-called second half with the first-game of a four-game set in Great American Ball Park.