We head into the All-Star Game with a respectable figure of 55-40-4 through the first-half of the season. We’re on pace for yet another profitable baseball season, but before we get to the second-half, there is a baseball game to be played tonight featuring the best in baseball. The 2016 All-Star Game will be coming to you from San Diego, a beautiful backdrop for the All-Star Game this season. If you follow baseball much, you already know that Petco Park is a friendly park for pitchers. You would also know that All-Star Games typically favor pitching, with loaded rotations setting up on the mound. However, there have been plenty of aces on the rocks this season.
Look no further than starter for the American League, Chris Sale. After last season with his brief stint with the Royals, one wouldn’t think that Johnny Cueto would be starting the All-Star Game just a few months later. Cueto didn’t fare so well in the American League, posting a 4.76 ERA in his time with the Royals. It didn’t mean much, obviously, as the Royals won the World Series despite his inefficiencies.
Now with him back pitching in the National League, where he spent all of his career before going over to the Royals, Cueto is back in his element with the San Francisco Giants. Cueto posted a 2.47 ERA over the first-half, including a 1.00 WHIP. Cueto only has 1 loss to his 13 wins. He fills the void of Clayton Kershaw, who unfortunately won’t be able to start due to a back injury. The Dodgers hope to get a healthy Kershaw back in the second-half of the year.
Sale comes into the All-Star Game with an ERA of 3.38, which surprisingly, is second best in the American League. Hitters have been reined this season and run production has been up across the board. Sale comes off a game against the Braves in which he allowed a whopping 8 runs. The break may have come at the right time for Sale. Sale is named the starter, despite knuckleballer of the Red Sox, Steven Wright, owning a 2.86 ERA. Starters only last about 1 inning or 2, so it isn’t worth putting much stock in, though. Let’s dig in deeper and dissect both of these rosters.
American League vs. National League
Chris Sale (14-3, 3.38 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (13-1, 2.47 ERA)
This is a game built on depth. The winner is crowned as being the deepest league. The American League have on the winning side the last three years, before the National League won the three before that. There isn’t really any trend of statistic in that regard to look into. Anybody making a pick based off past results in this game are spewing smoke. A 3.38 ERA and 2.47 ERA aren’t generally numbers we see for a starter in the All-Star Game. I have had no success betting an UNDER this season and that pretty well sums it up. Following Cueto in the rotation will be Max Scherzer, Jose Fernandez, and Jake Arrieta. Notables that will not be pitching in the All-Star game are Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, and Noah Syndergaard. All of those guys would have made the National League bigger favorites in this one. Arrieta has hit a wall lately, it’s going to be interesting what kind of effort he churns out in the All-Star Game.
Following Sale for the American League will be Steven Wright, Corey Kluber, Aaron Sanchez, and Jose Quintana. With Bumgarner, Strasburg, and Syndergaard absent it levels the playing field a bit. It would have been difficult for me to consider the American League if at least two of the three were active this evening, but they aren’t.
Padres’ Wil Meyers will find his way into the starting lineup in the All-Star Game for the National League. In fact, he will be batting clean-up. They will be anchored by several Cubs, including Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant. Bryce Harper will of course offer his services as well. If the Cubs were hot right now, this would look like one meaty lineup, but they are currently ice cold. The entire lineup hasn’t been hitting lately. Stacking the lineup with a bunch of Cubs doesn’t look as attractive as it did a month ago. I have a sneaking suspicion that this game is going to be all about Big Papi, David Ortiz.
There was some controversy in Derek Jeter’s last All-Star Game that he took advantage of a grooved pitch to open his first at-bat. Jeter went on to win MVP honors. It’s worth nothing that this will be the last All-Star Game for Ortiz. I expect him to show-off in this one and do something worthwhile. I think you have to take the dog in this game, it’s tough for me to back a team beyond -110 in an All-Star Game, especially without the abovementioned three pitchers I noted.