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Monday, July 15, 2013

Scherzer gets nod to start All-Star Game for American League

With the way he started the season Max Scherzer may be in line to collect a ton of accolades.

Monday may simply have brought the first, when he was named the All-Star Game starting pitcher for the American League.

"It's what you dream for," Scherzer said in Monday's press conference. "Life is good right now."

Monday was hardly the first time he's fielded questions on the topic, though. He's been taking those for five weeks, and shrugging them off.

“It would mean a lot. I just know how many great pitchers there are in the game, and how many great pitchers — I mean, the other pitchers who are on top of their game right now, and how well they’re pitching,” Scherzer said after his start Saturday night. “So, if I get the nod over those guys, I mean, that’s a real nice moment.”

AL manager Jim Leyland, also Scherzer’s skipper with the Tigers, chose his own guy to start.

“Our starter will be 13-1 Max Scherzer. I don’t think I need to explain it any more than that,” Leyland said.

Through the All-Star break, Scherzer is tied for the MLB lead in wins (13), leading in win percentage (.929), second in strikeouts (152) and strikeouts-per-nine ratio (10.55), sixth in WHIP (0.98), seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.90), eighth in opponent's batting average (.206) and 26th in ERA (3.19).

Leyland picked him over a group of eligible starters that included Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, Cleveland’s Justin Masterson, Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore, Baltimore’s Chris Tillman and Chicago’s Chris Sale. 

“This is all going to work out. However it works out, it’ll all work out. My stuff for the All-Star Game is a piece of cake now, with the exception of a couple of things,” Leyland said midweek last week. “Right now, I’m concerned about the Tigers. I’m home free with the All-Star Game, as far as — I’ve got my lineup, but I don’t have my starting pitcher. That’s OK. That’ll be a no-brainer. Somehow, that’ll be a no-brainer.

“How can you go wrong when you start any of them? I mean, you take any one of those guys, and start them, I don’t think you can go wrong. That’s why they’re on the All-Star team.

“So, I’m home free from that standpoint.” 

Mets rookie Matt Harvey got the nod for the National League.

Detroit's Justin Verlander started the 2013 All-Star Game, the most recent in a long line of several starting pitchers given the honor, including: Kenny Rogers (2006), Jack Morris (1981/1985), Mark Fidrych (1976), Denny McLain (1966), Jim Bunning (1957/1961, G2/1962, G1) and Hal Newhouser (1947).

The one guy it was never going to be was Mariano Rivera, who Leyland said “took me off the hook” by dismissing a grassroots movement to get the retiring closer the gig as the starter, to make sure he got his due in the game.

Leyland is planning to make sure that he does get his due recognition, if at all possible, in his home city and his final All-Star Game.

“If we have a three-run lead going into the ninth inning, and I can trot Mariano Rivera out there, I’d be the happiest son of a (gun) on the face of the earth,” said the manager, who was planning on challenging his AL team by tasking them with making that happen with a ‘Win One for Mo’ speech. “That’s going to be my motivational thing for the players. I think we should dedicate this All-Star Game to Mariano Rivera, and think we should work our (butt) off to hand him the ball in the ninth inning.”


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