Tuesday does not provide us with our usual MLB pick, as we need to find a way around some insane pitching and loaded lineups to correctly gauge how the 2017 MLB All-Star game will go. We happily take on that responsibility, however, as we get a gem of an All-Star outing with Max Scherzer and Chris Sale starting things off as each side’s starting pitcher.
Before we even begin to dive into how these pitchers could fare against nasty offenses, let’s pay some respect to this year’s All-Star game studs with a quick look at the starting lineups for the American League and National League:
SP: Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox
C: Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
1B: Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays
2B: Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
3B: Jose Ramirez – Cleveland Indians
SS: Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
LF: Aaron Judge – New York Yankees
CF: George Springer – Houston Astros
RF: Mookie Betts – Boston Red Sox
DH: Corey Dickerson – Tampa Bay Rays
The AL side is obviously loaded with some potent bats, as all of these guys can easily go yard in an instant. Most are part of winning clubs, too, as only Dickerson, Perez and Smoak are on teams not considered among their conference’s best at the moment. Sale is obviously an elite arm and has been one of the top pitchers in 2017. He’ll lean on his 11-4 record, but he obviously won’t pitch the entire game or even most of it, as the risk is just too high for some random injury.
The good news is the AL isn’t just Sale or bust, as the American League might have the leg up in the pitching department – especially with Clayton Kershaw not being permitted to pitch in the All-Star game after making a Sunday night start.
SP: Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
C: Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
1B: Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
2B: Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals
3B: Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies
SS: Zack Cozart – Cincinnati Reds
LF: Marcell Ozuna – Miami Marlins
CF: Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies
RF: Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals
DH: Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins
I know what you’re thinking; we basically have a MLB All-Star game consisting of the Astros and Nationals. But why shouldn’t we? They’ve been the two most reliable and explosive teams in baseball for all of 2017, after all. Washington obviously chips in three nasty bats, but they also have Mad Max on the mound and get some help from some nasty power via Arenado, Blackmon and Marlins Park natives, Ozuna and Stanton.
AL (-105) vs. NL (-115) Total: 9
Chris Sale (11-4, 2.75 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.10 ERA)
We know who is starting on the mound and who they have to face, but it’s going to be awfully difficult to figure out how to bet on this game. Vegas clearly isn’t taking a sharp stance, as the American League is the mildest of favorites here. We’ve still got a 50/50 shot just like most games, but that’s probably more so the case with so much talent on both sides.
While picking this game straight up is certainly one play, we’re not getting a ton of value there. Perhaps the Total (Over – EVEN) could be in play, while targeting the NL to take this thing (-1.5, +170) might make some good sense, too. The latter bet is especially interesting, especially considering the AL has lived up to that +1.5 run line in four consecutive wins. The NL leads this matchup overall, too, 43-42. The AL could understandably continue their recent run in a bid to tie this series up.
The harsh reality here is we can’t bank on the starting pitching here, as the top pitchers generally only pitch 1-2 innings. Given how important Mad Max and Sale are to their respective teams, that’s probably as much as we can expect out of them and I’m not sure their impact will have much to do with how the game plays out.
What is pretty telling, however, is the overall impact of elite pitching in these All-Star games. As loaded as both lineups are this year (and tend to be), it’s going to be awfully difficult to bet on this game being overly explosive. We haven’t seen either side top 8 runs in the last four games and that’s only happened once in the last 12 All-Star games. Of course, this has been the “year of the home run” and both lineups are completely stacked, so it’s probably a fine play, either way.
History and the talent on the mound don’t back an explosive affair, however, so we’re staying away from the Over and the Moneyline is too tight to really get us going. Instead, we’re searching for a reason to back the NL and their gaudy +170 line with their -1.5 Run Line. If we’re hunting for safety, we can ride the AL’s streak and target the Under.
It’s going to be tough to aid any real argument here, as every pitcher that steps foot onto the dirt at Marlins Park has a positive park factor, but will also be facing the best hitting talent the majors has to offer. I’m rather inclined to side with the AL. Houston has three starters in this lineup and they’ve been the most explosive offense in 2017. They should help this offense considerably, while they’re aided by monster bats in Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts.
While logic slightly points to the AL, we’re betting on the MLB All-Star game to make money and the best opportunity to do so is the upside with the NL. Their Run Line bet is just too attractive to ignore, while they’re absolutely loaded from top to bottom. We’d give the AL the clear edge at SS, but you could argue the NL actually has the deeper, more powerful lineup. Hit the Under and take the AL straight up for safety, but we’re aiming high with the NL’s -1.5 Run Line at +170. The point of this game is to have some fun, after all.