NL: Johnny Cueto, Lance Lynn, Ted Lilly, Brandon Beachy, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Carlos Zambrano, Clayton Kershaw, Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon, Huston Street, Zack Greinke, Wade Miley, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels
AL: Jered Weaver, Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, Brandon Morrow, C.J. Wilson, Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander, Chris Perez, Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson, Jonathan Broxton, Brandon McCarthy, Derek Lowe, David Price
Just short: Ryan Dempster (CHC), Jake Westbrook (STL), Johan Santana (NYM), Wandy Rodriguez (HOU), Kyle Lohse (STL), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Jeremy Hellickson (TB)
Cueto, Lilly, Beachy, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zambrano, Kershaw, and Miley are the frontrunners for the NL ERA crown, and they have a combined W-L record of 35-8, with a WHIP under 1.00 and an ERA under 2.00. That’s incredible. It would make for among the best rosters of pitchers ever assembled, in fact.
In this company, 3-4 Wandy Rodriguez will lose his spot to 6-1 Lance Lynn; 6-1 Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke will also earn nods on the strength of their great records and their strikeout totals.
Matt Cain will steal a spot because the Giants need a representative and Ryan Dempster, for all his skill, is 0-2 thanks to anemic run support from his Cub teammates.
Kimbrel, Papelbon, and Street are arguably the NL’s best closers; if Street remains injured, though, that does open one final spot for a deserving pitcher like Westbrook, Lohse, or Santana.
In the AL, Verlander, Lowe, Peavy, Darvish, and Weaver have all unquestionably earned their spots. Hammel and Jim Johnson are the ace and the closer, respectively, for the cruising Orioles, so they’ll get a nod apiece, and Brandon McCarthy is the only player on the A’s even worth consideration (at least, so far.
Overshadowed by free agent defector Yoenis Cespedes, young slugger Josh Reddick may see himself an All-Star as soon as next year...perhaps even this year, if McCarthy does get overlooked.) Chris Perez and Fernando Rodney are stud closers, and Jonathan Broxton’s both serviceable and a Kansas City Royal, which means he’ll likely be on the AL squad.
This leaves just one spot remaining between David Price, Price’s teammate Jeremy Hellickson, and perennial Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez. It’s a tough call, especially given Hernandez’s 61 strikeouts, but the nod will likely end up with two-time All-Star David Price.
Hernandez has more strikeouts and Hellickson has a better record, but there’s no question that David Price is simply one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Perhaps if there are some injuries between now and mid-July, AL Manager Ron Washington won’t have to make this choice...but as it stands, he’ll have one last tough call to make before the opening pitch.
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