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Washington Nationals - 2021 MLB All-Star Game news & notes: Davey Martinez on Max Scherzer; Max Scherzer on Shohei Ohtani + more...

Gathering up a bunch of notes and quotes to get you through your All-Star break...

Max Scherzer Named NL’s All-Star Starter:

Davey Martinez said over the weekend that he would be excited to see Max Scherzer get the nod in the 2021 MLB All-Star Game, in his eighth game and fourth start.

“It would be awesome,” Martinez told reporters in a pregame Zoom call on Sunday. “Like I said before, I’ve always thought that Max deserved to be on it and he’s on it now, and now for him to start the game would be incredible. Max, everybody knows Max, Max he gives you everything he has every single day. And not only when he’s out there every fifth day, but he competes every day, that’s who he is, and it’s awesome that he gets to hopefully start his fourth, and I know this is like his [eighth] All-Star appearance, so it’s awesome.”

NL (and LA Dodgers’) manager Dave Roberts talked in Monday’s All-Star press conference in Denver, CO about his decision, and said it was made at least in part to acknowledge the fact that the Nationals won it all in 2019 and never really got to take a victory lap with no All-Star Game last summer in the COVID season, and no fans in the stands all season.

2021 Gatorade All-Star Workout Day Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

“I think that for me ultimately deciding on Max, I felt that what he’s done this year, as far as performance, what he’s done for the game in baseball, his track record, I want to take this opportunity, also, because he’s a former World Series champion in 2019 and last year, the Nationals didn’t get that opportunity,” Roberts explained.

“So for Davey and his staff not to have this experience I’m so grateful for, I just feel that is added on top of that. For every level for me, it was no-brainer.”

Scherzer, who went from not on the original NL roster, to being added as a sub and now being tapped as the starter, said he’s thrilled with the honor.

“It’s an incredible feeling, to be named to this All-Star Game, and now my fourth chance to start it, it’s an incredible honor,” the three-time Cy Young award-winner said. “When you step into a room with a room full of All-Stars, and you get the ball, it’s a really special feeling. It’s hard to put into words. For Dave to select me again, to give that honor to me with the quality of arms that are in the National League this year, I’m very blessed and very thankful for that opportunity.”

Starlin Castreak Up to 14-Straight at Break:

Starlin Castro went into the All-Star break on 14-game hit streak. Between June 28th and July 11th, the 31-year-old infielder was 23 for 48 (.479/.527/.646) with five doubles, one home run, six walks, and just one strikeout in 56 plate appearances, which took him from .247/.297/.326 before the streak up to .283/.333/.375.

Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

“Like I said, a lot of people were down on him early on because he wasn’t hitting,” Martinez said when asked about Castro’s run going into the time off. “I told you before, I said, I’ve seen this kid for many, many years. He can hit, he has good bat-to-ball skills, and I told everybody, by the end of the year, just look at his numbers, he’ll be right where he needs to be and so far he’s done well. It stinks for him, cause he’s got four days off, but I’m sure he needs a little rest as well and hopefully he comes back swinging the bat hot again like he’s been.”

Judging the 1st Half of the 2021 Season:

It started with a COVID outbreak. And the injuries have piled up to the point that Max Scherzer said it should be called the “injury rat” rather than the “injury bug”, and their season began with a 21-29 April and May, before a 19-9 run in June as Kyle Schwarber demolished baseballs and sparked the offense, but then he too got bit by the rat, and landed on the IL along with a number of other key Nationals. So how is their manager evaluating the “first half”?

“It’s hard when you don’t have all your pieces,” Martinez acknowledged. “All the pieces that you thought leaving Spring Training that you’d have, but then again, it’s part of it. And like I said, I never dwell on things that happen. I try to stay as positive as I possibly can, and get these guys ready to play every day.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“The good news is these guys are going to get healthy. For the guys that have stayed healthy and played, all year long, the Josh Harrisons, Starlin, all those guys, man, they played their hearts out. Starlin has been swinging the bat well.

“All these guys, I mean, I can’t say enough about how they’ve been going out there and playing every day and giving me everything they had.

“Kudos to those guys. When we get our pieces back, hopefully like I said, we’re playing good now, we start adding these guys back, and we’ll take off again. We had a good run there for a little bit.

“Hopefully we win today and then we’ll come back and we’ll take off and be in a good spot.”

They went into the break having lost four straight and 9 of 11 in July though...

Scherzer talks Ohtani - Yes, More Please:

We asked Max Scherzer on Sunday if he thought Juan Soto had any chance in the 1st Round matchup with Shohei Ohtani. He did.

“This is actually going to be interesting,” Scherzer said, taking the question very seriously.

“I know Ohtani, what he’s doing right now is absolutely unbelievable, it’s great for the game. But let’s not sleep on Juan here. Juan can get in a groove, and I actually think this is actually going to be a great thing for him. I think he has a decent idea of how he wants to attack the HR Derby, how he’s going to launch the ball in the air and it actually could — a lot times we hear, you see different guys saying, ‘I do the HR Derby and it screws me up going into the second half.’ I think for Juan this actually is an opportunity like, hey, use this and this might propel you in the second half. I think what he wants to do and how he wants to attack the Derby, with K-Long throwing at him and get some left-on-left, it’s going to be fun. So, it’s such a show. The HR Derby is a show and all these guys are going to come in there and put on a show.”

2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Soto and Ohtani were tied after one round, and after the second round, so they went to a swing off, and Soto hit 3 of 3 out, before Ohtani lined out to right on the first pitch to end things. Soto went on to lose in the second round, to eventual winner Pete Alonso.

But don’t get it twisted, Scherzer, the three-time Cy Young award-winner, is in awe of what Ohtani has been able to do, leading the league in HRs with 33 at the break, and pitching to a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts.

“It would be awesome for me if I could get a hit,” Scherzer said. “I’m 0-for the first half this year. Just the fact that he can pitch; the demands on your body to be a pitcher are intense to say the least, I can definitely speak to that.

“So to be able to shoulder those workloads and also be able to hit as well, that’s just absolutely incredible. It takes an unbelievable athlete to be able to accomplish that and that’s what he is. He’s an incredible athlete and that’s why I feel like you’re seeing some of these historic things come out of this first half and what he was able to do.

“He’s must-watch baseball any time he’s on the field.”