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Clayton Kershaw won’t start the All-Star Game for the National League despite throwing a no-hitter amid 41 consecutive scoreless innings this season.
And it came as little surprise.
National League manager Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals chose his own pitcher, Adam Wainwright, to start the game tomorrow night. Wainwright is 12-4 with a 1.83 earned-run average. Kershaw is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA, best in the major leagues. It’s a bit reminiscent of last year, when the All-Star Game was played at Citi Field and New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey got the start over Kershaw despite similar credentials.
It’s no secret that managers look at more than just the numbers.
“If I’m Mike Matheny, I probably start my own guy. If I’m me, I start my guy,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Saturday, when asked for his pick to start the game. “If I’m Bud Black, I’m starting Despanga [Odrisamer Despaigne] or whatever his name is.”
Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, who is taking part in tonight’s home run derby at Target Field, is batting second and playing right field. Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon and pitcher Zack Greinke are also on the National League roster.
The full lineups for both teams:
MLB provided an updated all-star ballot tally Sunday, and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig still leads the pack with 1,942,701 votes. Andrew McCutchen (1,727,534) and Giancarlo Stanton (1,659,430) are second and third, respectively.
Juan Uribe dropped out of the top five among National League third basemen. Hanley Ramirez remains fourth among shortstops with 667,162 — well behind Troy Tulowitzki, whose 2.6 million votes lead all National League players. Dee Gordon slipped to third among second baseman with 898,226, possibly past the point of catching leader Chase Utley (1,678,843).
Voting ends at 8:59 pm on July 3, 2014.
Puig widened his lead over Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, 1,472,717 votes to 1,259,047 for Stanton. As of six days ago, Puig led Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon by about 52,000 votes. Blackmon fell out of the top three, surpassed by Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. There are no other Dodger outfielders (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are both on the ballot) among the top 15 vote-getters.
Puig entered play Monday ranked second in the N.L. with a .591 slugging percentage and a .430 on-base percentage, tied for fourth with 23 multi-hit games, fifth with 127 total bases, tied for sixth with 40 RBI and 30 extra-base hits and tied for seventh with 72 hits.
Gonzalez maintains his lead with 888,906 total votes. He is trailed closely by a pair of 2013 N.L. All-Stars – Paul Goldschmidt (784,026) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Freddie Freeman (710,778) of the Atlanta Braves.
Puig and Gonzalez are attempting to become the first pair of Dodgers teammates to earn fan elections in an All-Star Game since 1980, when first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and outfielder Reggie Smith were all elected by the fans.
The All-Star Game will be played at Target Field in Minnesota on Tuesday, July 15.
“I love picking down later,” he said, “because it means we’re doing well down here. There are guys who slip through the cracks.”
A sampling of past number-22 picks shows he’s right. The list includes Rafael Palmeiro (1985), Craig Biggio (1987), Jayson Werth (1997), current Twins closer Glen Perkins (2004) and emerging Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (2011). From 1980 to 2005 only one player drafted 22nd overall did not at least reach the major leagues, and even poor Charles Peterson (1993) had a career .290/.347/.431 slash line in 14 minor-league seasons.
I wrote yesterday about what makes this draft different. It’s the same thing, arguably more than any other, that’s made the entire MLB season different: Tommy John is again the most famous name in pitching. On Tuesday, Chris Withrow became the 21st major-league pitcher to have the ligament-replacement procedure since spring training began (technically he was brought up from the minors prior to the procedure).
The rash of younger pitchers needing the procedure — which carries a high rate of success but also a 12 to 18 month recovery period — could affect who falls to number 22.
“I would only be speculating,” White said, “but I imagine that people are going to go in the other direction, they’re going to be afraid to take a pitcher.”
Gonzalez (647,826) remained in line to start at first base for the second straight week, leading Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau (525,614).
Dee Gordon (530,289) remains second to Chase Utley (974,196) among National League second basemen, while Hanley Ramirez is fourth among shortstops (366,355) and Juan Uribe is fifth among third basemen (436,776).
Puig is the only Dodgers outfielder among the top 15 vote-getters. The game will be played at Minnesota’s Target Field on July 15.
A fan petition calling on the Dodgers and Time Warner cable to “broker a deal” with local cable providers and “stop the defacto blackout” of the club on local television has 491 signatures on the website FansRising.com.
The campaign is planning additional action to raise attention to the issue, according to a press release from Fans Rising. Comments left by fans reveal that multiple petition signers are elderly fans no longer able to attend games who can’t watch on television.
“I saw my first Dodger game at Ebbets Field in 1938 and have been a faithful fan ever since,” wrote Doris Schalk. “I am now 84 and unable to drive, so don’t get to many games anymore, but being able to watch them all these years has been a god-send. The radio guys are very good – BUT I miss my Vin AND my Dodgers.”
Some bullet points for a Hump Day:
But how much? Who are the Dodgers without their best pitcher? Until recently, that’s been hard to say.
Speaking last August about Kershaw’s credentials for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, Don Mattingly said that “as a manager you see how important (he) is every fifth day. He goes deep into games, saves your bullpen, stops losing streaks, extends winning streaks. you can’t hardly put it — it’s just big. He’s got to be considered.”
It’s been 45 days since Kershaw last pitched. In that time, their run differential is plus-9, their record is 17-14, and their bullpen is taxed. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks have gotten more innings out of their bullpen this season, and the Diamondbacks have played two more games. The Dodgers have needed more innings from their relievers on a per-game basis than any major-league team. That’s partly a function of their eight extra-inning games, which leads the major leagues.
It’s also a function of Kershaw’s absence. Last year, the burden that Kershaw took off the Dodgers’ bullpen was something Mattingly had to imagine; this year it is very real. The proof is in the numbers. While the other starters have picked up the slack (they’re 13-5 with a 3.06 ERA, sixth in MLB), the Dodger bullpen has exuded mediocrity. Their 3.79 ERA ranks 15th and they’re going unusually deep into counts against opposing batters. Only three major-league bullpens are averaging more pitches per plate appearance than the Dodgers’. Their high innings-pitched total doesn’t even tell the full story.
How much impact can Kershaw have on an entire pitching staff — an entire team? We’ll check back in another 45 days.
According to an interview Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti did with ESPN, Kershaw will be cleared to throw 100 pitches tomorrow.
“I think he looked sharper in the two rehab games,” Colletti said, “than he did in Australia.”
Kershaw allowed one run in 6 ⅔ innings in Australia.
When League’s name was brought up in Don Mattingly‘s postgame press conference, the reaction was different: “We feel like he’s been pretty good.”
It’s time to call BS on someone here.
A quick look at League’s 2014 resume:
That’s not terribly difficult to defend as “pretty good.” By comparison, this poor chap faced nine more batters and got two more outs, and doesn’t get booed by his fans:
The second gamelog belongs to Jamey Wright, in case you were wondering. We’re dealing with small sample sizes, but here goes: Wright has the superior ERA (3.38 compared to League’s 3.60). League has the better FIP (2.84 compared to 4.35), but FIP doesn’t show up on the Dodger Stadium display boards. Maybe that explains the boos?
Here’s Mattingly, continued: “I know he got the loss in that game in San Francisco. He’s been throwing the ball pretty good. It’s been negative since last year because he has a little bit of a rough spring. It’s been negative but he’s thrown the ball well. We want to stay realistic. He’s thrown the ball good. He’s given us some good innings. He’s kept games where they should be, given us chances, so he’s doing his job.”
What Mattingly didn’t mention is that League’s $22.5 million, three-year contract makes League the Dodgers’ best-paid relief pitcher. That’s closer money for a sixth-inning reliever. League is certainly paid better than Wright’s $1.8 million deal, which is why Wright (or a young pitcher with contract options like Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez or Paco Rodriguez) will hardly ever get booed. Their contracts are more readily expendable. League’s contract, a seagull bordering on an albatross, is not. For fans, that comes with certain expectations.
Ever since League lost the closer’s job and finished the 2013 season with a 5.30 ERA, it seems like there’s been no turning back. He is the whipping boy. Juan Uribe was in a similar position in 2011 and 2012, but was able to turn it around.
Maybe League can turn his reputation around too. Apparently it’ll take more than seven “pretty good” appearances.
Speaking of which, Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area had a pretty good take on the Giants’ “whipping boys.” Does race have something to do with it?