Kershaw and Ohtani Must Start the All-Star Game
The exhibition takes place in L.A. this year, and it's a no-brainer to showcase the biggest local stars.
Some people are going to say today’s post is biased. But bias is precisely the point.
A Dodger needs to start the All-Star Game this year for the National League. Why? Because the All-Star Game is being played at Dodger Stadium for the first time in 40 years, and the Dodgers have two excellent candidates to take the ball to kick it off.
The first is Tony Gonsolin, who is 11-0 with a 1.62 ERA. I’ve watched all of Gonsolin’s starts this year, and I’m still not sure how he’s doing it. He doesn’t throw 100+ like Jacob deGrom. He doesn’t feature a dazzling curveball that makes hitters want to go back to Florida and work for their family’s construction business. He just induces weak contact after weak contact, over and over again, until the 7th inning rolls around and the opposing team has only scored once. A few weeks ago I tweeted that Gonsolin should start the All-Star Game.
Dear readers, I was wrong.
Of course it should be Clayton Kershaw’s start. Why? Well, he’s the best pitcher of his generation to never get the honor. The only other active, sure-fire Hall of Fame pitchers (IMO) are Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. Scherzer has started the ASG four times. Verlander’s done it twice. Greinke’s done it once. (I think I’d vote Adam Wainwright into the Hall of Fame but I’m not sure he’s a lock. And anyway, he got to start the game in 2014 over Kershaw even though Kershaw won the NL MVP that year).
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How, you may be wondering, has Clayton Kershaw never started an All-Star Game despite winning three Cy Young awards and an MVP? That’s a great question!
We would not be having this discussion if he’d started the 2013 All-Star Game in New York like he should have. That honor went to Matt Harvey, precisely because he was on the Mets and the game was played at Citi Field. I was at that game, asking why Kershaw wasn’t getting a chance to start when he clearly deserved it more. (He was coming off his second Cy Young win in three years and Matt Harvey was essentially a rookie.) I was told by members of the New York media as well as Mets fans that Harvey was better than Kershaw (yikes), and that Kershaw would surely have many more chances to start (nope).
This is it, everyone. It’s Kershaw’s turn. I don’t want to hear about Sandy Alcantara’s FIP or his innings pitched or even his ERA. He’s 26. If he’s truly going to be a star in this league for a decade to come, he will have ample opportunities to start future All-Star Games. Kershaw has a 2.49 ERA over 15 seasons. The only active player who comes close to that number is deGrom (also 2.49), who is the same age as Kershaw but has thrown only half the number of innings. (Kershaw has thrown 2,510.2 IP, deGrom is at 1,261.2).
Had Kershaw started in 2013, or in 2014, or 2015, or 2016, or 2017 like he should have, then Tony Gonsolin would be the easy choice. If a generational talent like Clayton Kershaw is going to be passed over in favor of the home team pitcher getting the ASG start for his entire career, shouldn’t the same rules apply to benefit him here?
In what could be Kershaw’s last season, this decision is a no-brainer. And I think NL manager and lifelong baseball man Brian Snitker will agree with me if we can get someone to float this idea by him. So, hello! Brian! Number 22 is right there in the blue and white! And the home crowd will love it!
The choice for AL starter is just as easy, and I don’t think even Rob Manfred could screw this up. Last year the American League (correctly) started Shohei Ohtani, and let him stay in the game to hit after he was done pitching. This was against normal baseball rules, but Ohtani is such a supernova that they’re having to create new rules to maximize his shine. And why wouldn’t they? Sometimes a unicorn comes along who is so special that concessions must be made for the betterment of the entire game.
No offense to Justin Verlander, who has already started two All-Star Games and will probably pitch for another 20 years. But there’s some 11-year-old kid somewhere who is just getting into baseball *because* of Ohtani, and MLB needs to do whatever it can to capture her devotion now.
The media rolls its eyes every year, but the All-Star Game is a big deal. And since the Angels can’t seem get out of their own way for even one (1) year to make the playoffs, this will be the only chance the rest of the world will get to see Ohtani on such a big stage.
I know he started last year. I don’t care. The guy has hit 18 home runs and has a 2.44 ERA with 111K in 81 innings. As long as he keeps putting up any numbers approximating this, he is undisputedly the most valuable player in MLB. Even Aaron Judge and his 30 home runs through July 8 (omg) can’t touch him.
I don’t ask for much. I just want my favorite sport to survive into my twilight years. Ohtani can get us there if MLB doesn’t mess this up.