Two days after being added to the National League All-Star team, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer learned Monday that he will be the starting pitcher for the senior circuit in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game against the American League at Coors Field in Denver.
The bigger starting-pitcher story came from the American League as Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash opted to go with Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani as his starting pitcher and his leadoff hitter. Ohtani, of course, was the premier story of the first half, slugging a major league-leading 33 home runs while also going 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts as a pitcher.
There was some thought that Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, 6-5 with a 2.26 ERA and the major league leader in innings pitched, would get the nod for the National League after his former New York Mets teammate Jacob deGrom opted out of the game. Dave Roberts, the National League manager who led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series title last season, opted instead for the most seasoned of his All-Star pitchers.
Scherzer, 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 17 starts this season, will make his third All-Star start for the National League and his fourth All-Star start overall. The eight-time All-Star was also the starter for the National League in 2017 and 2018, and he started for the American League in 2013 when he was with the Detroit Tigers.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be named to an eighth All-Star Game and now my fourth chance to start it. It’s an incredible honor,” Scherzer said at a news conference in Denver. “When you step into a room full of All-Stars and you get the ball, that’s a special feeling. It’s really hard putting it into words. So for Dave to select me again and to give that honor to me with the quality of arms that are in the National League this year, I’m very blessed and very thankful for that opportunity.”
Roberts had indicated Saturday that he wanted to give Scherzer the start as a tribute to Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who did not get a chance to manage the All-Star Game last year because it was erased by the COVID-19 pandemic. Martinez guided the Nats to the 2019 World Series title.
Roberts’ decision leaves catcher J.T. Realmuto as the National League’s only Phillies starter. There’s still a chance that Wheeler gets into the game in relief, which would likely push his first start of the second half back to at least Sunday against the Miami Marlins. The Phillies resume play with a doubleheader Friday against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.