The MLB Draft was -- literally -- still being held when I fielded the first question about the MLB All-Star Game. Should American League manager Jim Leyland keep his ace, Justin Verlander, on the sidelines and give him some rest?
That's one of the two themes we hear every time the All-Star Game comes around. Fans want 1) their players to rest, and 2) their players to avoid to home-run derby out of some misplaced fear it destroys everyone it touches.
Who says the players are resting over their handful of days off? Who doesn't come back from vacation exhausted? Work hard, play hard. How much work are the players actually putting in during the all-star festivities that it's ruining the second halfs of their seasons, anyway?
Verlander had a 2.57 ERA when he started the All-Star Game in 2012. It ballooned all the way to 2.73 in the second half. Some might want to say he fell off in the postseason -- the argument being predicated on the five runs allowed in four innings during Game 1 of the World Series rather than the two runs allowed in 24 1/3 innings during his first three postseason starts. It's hard to draw a link there. Verlander did have a postseason ERA of 5.31 in 2011 -- then again he never even made it into that All-Star Game.
Verlander will undoubtedly be an All-Star. He may not be having the best season among the Tigers' starting rotation -- an argument could actually be made he's having the fourth- or fifth- season among his fellow starters. But he embodies All-Star. He's the team ace on a club coming off a World Series appearance that's picked by many to get back to the World Series. He's already earned Cy Young and MVP awards.
Leyland, I suspect, will pick Rangers starter Yu Darvish to start. Darvish is another pitcher having an incredible year: 2.75 ERA, 33.8 percent strikeout rate, MLB-best 2.50 SIERA. He took a perfect game into the ninth inning in his first start of the season. Beside that, Leyland may see it as some sort of payback to the Rangers for allowing Verlander to start last year. He'd probably be the best choice anyway -- regardless of implied shenanigans.
Either pitcher, would of course be a fine choice, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say the honor will neither make nor break their 2013 seasons.
I doubt Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister all join Verlander in New York, even if they deserve to. Sanchez is having the best season arguably among the four, but shoulder/back fatigue could force caution there. Scherzer seems most likely to get the nod in his stead, if for no other reason than for being another strikeout king.
So, here's my questions for you: Who do you think should start the All-Star Game, and which Tigers pitchers do you think are named All-Stars?