MLB All-Star Game 2014: Breaking Down Lineups and Starting Pitchers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 10:  Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 10, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Because the sporting world can't deal with a lack of debate, a "controversy" has emerged on the National League All-Star team, namely that manager Mike Matheny chose Adam Wainwright as his starting pitcher over Clayton Kershaw. 

You can see the full rosters below, courtesy of SportsCenter on Twitter:

Very few things on that list stand out or make the blood boil. But Wainwright starting over Kershaw, well, that got people's attention.

Keith Law of ESPN wasn't thrilled:

Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk clearly thinks Kershaw is the better pitcher:

Heck, David Price even thinks Kershaw deserved the nod, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:

Kershaw, to his credit, was gracious about the entire thing:

Kershaw handled the whole thing correctly, even if the reasons Matheny gave for starting Kershaw were pretty flimsy, per Jayson Stark of ESPN:

Look, Matheny picked Wainwright for two reasons: 1) He's Wainwright's manager on the St. Louis Cardinals, and 2) Wainwright has good enough numbers to justify the homer move. After all, how would it look if Matheny picked Kershaw over his guy who, by the way, is having a Cy Young-caliber season in his own right? 

Not good, that's how. And while Kershaw has been superb this season, Wainwright has been nearly as good.

Comparing Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright
Clayton Kershaw1496.1112311261.780.834.2
Adam Wainwright19138.0124321151.830.914.9

Kershaw's numbers are insane given his fewer starts and innings pitched, sure, but Wainwright has been fantastic in his own right.

As Shaikin noted, "In June and July—the months in which Kershaw has soared the highest—Wainwright was 4-1 in seven starts, with a 1.03 ERA."

So yes, while Kershaw was throwing 41 scoreless innings, Wainwright was confounding batters himself.

In a perfect world, yes, Kershaw would be the starter. But in this world, in which Matheny has the right to choose his own guy—and his guy just so happens to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball—anyone out there suggesting that Wainwright's selection as the starter is some sort of travesty or injustice is sorely mistaken.

After all, this is an exhibition game, even if baseball has tried desperately to slap meaning on the game by giving the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series (which remains one of the dumbest decisions in sports history).

If this wasn't an exhibition game, it's hard to imagine that Derek Jeter would be batting leadoff for the American League. Jeter is a legend, yes, but both his place in this game and his spot in the lineup are symbolic. 

Guys hitting .272 with two home runs, 25 RBI, 31 runs scored and six stolen bases don't normally hit leadoff at the All-Star Game, after all. 

Jul 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; American League infielder Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees waves to fans during workout day the day before the 2014 MLB All Star Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

And especially not with the murderer's row that follows him. Mike Trout, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista hitting two through five in the order is enough to keep any pitcher up at night. Adam Jones hitting seventh is frightening. 

The NL starters are no slouches either, of course, and is arguably more balanced. Matheny's decision to make Giancarlo Stanton his designated hitter was the right one. Andrew McCutchen leading off—and Carlos Gomez hitting ninth—speaks to the balance and depth of this starting nine. 

It should be a fun game, given the talent that has managed to remain after half of each roster had to be replaced due to injury. And if Wainwright and Kershaw each mow down the dangerous AL lineup, perhaps we can all forget about this whole "controversy."

Or not. Surely, something in the game will give us something to debate. If it isn't the starting pitchers, it will be something else. 


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