On Sunday, Major League Baseball announced the rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game, which will take place on July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Dave Roberts is handling the National League side of things, and has already named one of his Los Angeles Dodgers, Hyun-Jin Ryu, . Despite Roberts’ best efforts to prevent the creation of online content, we’re here to pick out a starter for Alex Cora’s American League bunch — and to figure out who Roberts is likely to use in relief of Ryu once his outing is complete.
The subjectiveness of the All-Star Game is either a beautiful or terrible thing, depending on one’s perspective. Never is this more evident than when it comes to picking a starting pitcher. There are a lot of ways to evaluate pitchers, and each of them will annoy a large group of people. With that in mind, we’re offering a choice for almost every school of thought, as well as our prediction for who Cora will pick. Note that our prediction is more art than science.
The starters on the AL team include Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito, Mike Minor, Jake Odorizzi, Marcus Stroman, and John Means. We like Means and his nasty changeup, but there’s almost no way he’s going to get the nod. Ditto Charlie Morton, who will instead start for the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Based on how things stand, Minor is probably going to be the pick. He leads the group in Baseball-Reference’s WAR, in large part because he also leads them in ERA and pitches in a hitter’s park. His peripherals aren’t as impressive as some of his counterparts, but oh well. Cora can pick Minor and it’s a defensible and fine selection requiring little additional thought.
If Cora wants to dig deeper, he could pick Cole based on his FIP. He could pick Giolito based on his DRA. He could pick Verlander to honor his great career (Verlander has started just one other All-Star Game, and that was in 2012). He could pick Odorizzi to honor the Minnesota Twins‘ impressive first half. He could pick Stroman . And so on.
Were we gamblers, we’d bet on Cora picking one of Minor, Cole, and Verlander. In the end, we think it’ll be Minor.
If Roberts goes off ERA, he’ll pick Soroka. If he goes off DRA — or, um, the intensity of the pitchers — he’ll opt for Scherzer. If he wants to be a homer, it’ll be Kershaw or Buehler. If he wants to dedicate the first half of the game to great changeups, it’ll be Castillo. And if he wants anarchy, it’ll be Alcantara, who is in the game because the Miami Marlins needed someone.
We’re guessing Roberts will go with Scherzer. He can blame it on a number of things — deferring to veterans; preferring Scherzer’s hot hand — but deep down, we’ll know it’s because he doesn’t want to tell Scherzer he’s pitching third or fourth.
With that established, we hope Roberts rolls with Alcantara. Hey, if he’s going to be there, may as well make it count, right?