The Mid-Summer Classic is a fantastic celebration of the best that America’s Pastime has to offer, but this year the attention is more focused on who is NOT playing than who is. A record 16 players have begged out of tonight’s home-field advantage deciding contest, though curiously only 4 of the 16 are on the actual disabled list.
It not only affects the game, but also affects it from a wagering perspective. So let’s dig a little deeper in tonight’s All Star Game for a winning edge.
Typically, I’d start with a listing of the starting pitchers and all their vital statistics, but in a game like this where the starter might pitch two innings, it is a little less important who is starting the game than it is to look at the overall arms at each manager’s deploy.
The American League may be on the road tonight, but it is a pretty safe bet that none of the NL hitters are going to feel very at home facing the daunting array of AL pitching. Starter Jared Weaver may not have the same name recognition as his NL counterpart, Roy Halliday, but his major-league leading 1.86 ERA, as well as his league leading strikeout total is not a bad way to start for the visitors. However, who he hands to ball off to afterwards will be a bit of a disappointment. Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and Tampa Bay’s James Shields will all be unavailable as they pitched on Sunday.
This leaves the AL with a pitching gap that they are going to have to fill with solid pitchers; David Price, and a cast of relievers will have to pick up the slack.
For the National League, you can pretty much bank on the Phillies rotation carrying the heavy load. Roy Halliday brings his dominance to the mound first, but Cliff Lee and Cole Hammels will be waiting patiently in the wings. Controversial selection Tim Lincecum could also be called on to pitch as well as Jair Jurgens.
Both lineups are solid, but I’d give the slight edge to the National League, with Kemp and Berkman having monster years, and Prince Fielder and Ricky Weeks wrecking havoc.
The American League will be without A-Rod and Jeter (perhaps not a horrible thing for them), but will still have a ton of punch in the middle of the order with Adrian Gonzolez and a healthy Josh Hamilton.
The American League’s decade-plus of dominance finally ended last year when the NL Captured their first victory since 1997. Tonight, they will try to make it two in a row, and I think they have a good chance to do so. As we saw last night, the ball is carrying like a champ in that warm Phoenix summer air. I have two plays for tonight, the first is the NL to WIN, the second is OVER 8.5. With so many top-flight hurlers scratched for tonight and so few top-flight sluggers sidelined, the advantage tonight will be had in the batter’s box.
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