MLB All-Star Game: 5 Pitchers Who Could Start the Game for the AL
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For a pitcher, being selected to play in the All-Star Game is an honor.
Being selected to start the All-Star Game, however, is an even bigger honor.
There's no real competition when it comes to the honor of starting the All-Star Game, but it's definitely a privilege that pitchers around the league would love to have. Deep down inside, all of them want to be able to say that they started the [Year X] Midsummer Classic once upon a time.
When the All-Star Game actually rolls around in July, the discussion will shift from who should start the All-Star Game to who can start the All-Star Game. Alas, the best guy for the job may be unavailable because he just pitched a couple days prior to the game.
But we don't have to worry about that for the time being, so let's take a look at five guys who could potentially start for the American League at the 2012 Midsummer Classic.
Note: I'm ranking the candidates in order of how cool I think it would be to watch them start the All-Star Game.
Honorable Mention: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
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Jered Weaver is having a brilliant year once again. Through 10 starts, he has a record of 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP.
Weaver's ERA and WHIP both rank in the top five among American League starting pitchers, and he ranks third in the league innings pitched and seventh in strikeouts. If it wasn't for his brutal start against the Texas Rangers back on May 13th, he would have even more impressive numbers.
Nonetheless, I'm designating Weaver as an honorable mention because he started the All-Star Game for the American League last year. Someone else should get a turn this year.
5. Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays
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Brandon Morrow has been slowly morphing into an All-Star pitcher over the last two years, and he's finally achieved All-Star status this year.
In nine starts, Morrow is 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP, and he ranks in the top 10 in the American League in innings pitched and strikeouts.
Morrow has been on a roll ever since late April. He's allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his last five starts, two of which were complete-game shutouts. He did allow six earned runs against the Tampa Bay Rays back on May 14th, but that had a lot to do with bad luck.
Morrow's got the kind of stuff that would make for must-see TV at the All-Star Game. He's got a fastball that he can crank up to the mid 90s with a lot of late life, and he has a nasty slider that he can use to get hitters to swing and miss.
With Morrow on the mound, the American League squad could get off to an impressive start at Kauffman Stadium.
4. Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox
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Jake Peavy went through some tough times in 2010 and 2011, but he's healthy and back to looking like his old self this year.
Peavy's numbers are solid across the board. He has a 5-1 record in nine games to go along with an impressive 2.39 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. Both of those figures rank third in the American League, and Peavy also ranks in the top 10 in innings pitched and strikeouts.
His numbers would look even better if it weren't for one bad inning against the Detroit Tigers back on May 15th. If you take that inning out of the equation, Peavy's ERA is well under 2.00 for the season.
Like Weaver, Peavy has started an All-Star Game before, but that was back in 2007 and he started for the National League. After all he's been through over the last couple years, watching him toe the rubber for the American League at the All-Star Game would border on being surreal.
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
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King Felix is quietly doing his thing once again this season.
Hernandez only has a record of 4-3 in his 10 starts, but don't let that fool you. He's been dominant in all but three of them, and he boasts a 2.80 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He ranks second in the American League in innings pitched and strikeouts.
Hernandez has won a Cy Young and been named to two AL All-Star teams, but he has yet to start the game for the American League.
That's a crime. From the start of the 2009 season until now, Hernandez has been one of the best pitchers in the American League. In fact, the only AL starter with a higher WAR than King Felix since 2009 is Justin Verlander, according to FanGraphs.
If he still has great numbers when July rolls around, Ron Washington should give some serious thought to having King Felix start for the AL.
2. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
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So far, Yu Darvish's first season in Major League Baseball has been a success.
Darvish has a record of 6-2 in nine starts, with an ERA of 3.05 and a WHIP of 1.41. He ranks second in the American League with a K/9 of 10.13.
Granted, Darvish's ERA and WHIP don't stack up very well next to elites, but those numbers look considerably better if you disregard his two starts against the Seattle Mariners, who seem to be his Kryptonite. In seven starts against all other teams, Darvish has an ERA of 1.94 and a WHIP of 1.24.
But I'll admit, Darvish isn't on this list because of his numbers. He's on this list mainly because I just think it would be cool to see him put his nasty stuff to use in an All-Star Game setting.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that many of you agree with me.
If you don't, well, that's just like your opinion, man.
1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
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Justin Verlander has picked up in 2012 right where he left off in 2011.
No other pitcher in the American League can match Verlander's numbers. He's tied for first in the American League with a 2.15 ERA, and he's first in the league with a 0.81 WHIP, 75.1 innings pitched, and 75 strikeouts.
If Verlander keeps it up, he's going to end up having a better season this year than he did last year. Such a thing wasn't supposed to be possible.
Verlander has yet to start the All-Star Game for the American League, but as long as he keeps doing what he's doing until July, that should change.
Honestly, no other candidate comes close.
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