2022 MLB All-Star Game: Top Storylines to Track for Both Rosters

Joe TanseyJuly 18, 2022

2022 MLB All-Star Game: Top Storylines to Track for Both Rosters

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    The Major League Baseball All-Star Game gains most of its intrigue from the players voted into the two starting lineups.

    Over the last few seasons, those players have not been the ones who made the final impact on the exhibition between the American and National Leagues.

    The 2017 and 2018 editions of the Midsummer Classic went to extra innings, and four runs were scored in the final three innings of the 2019 event.

    The last four All-Star Games featured six runs in the first three innings and 20 runs in the sixth inning and beyond.

    If that trend holds true at Dodger Stadium, the top Most Valuable Player candidates will come from the benches or could be members of the host franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Tuesday's game should start with some dominant pitching since both leagues have three or four high-quality options to toe the rubber first.

    Shane McClanahan and Shohei Ohtani are the AL's top candidates to start with Justin Verlander unable to pitch. The NL should go with either Sandy Alcantara, Tony Gonsolin or Clayton Kershaw in the first inning.

    The high quality of starters giving it all for 20-25 pitches in one inning could limit the offense in the opening innings and pave the path for yet another tight contest decided in the late frames.

Order of Starting Pitchers

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    The debate surrounding both All-Star Game starting pitchers has waged on for weeks.

    The National League has two strong candidates from the host team in Tony Gonsolin and Clayton Kershaw, but Miami's Sandy Alcantara is the front-runner to win the Cy Young Award.

    And then there is Joe Musgrove, who has an argument to start thanks to his strong first half with the San Diego Padres.

    National League manager Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves has a hard choice to make between the most deserving statistical candidate in Alcantara and the heartfelt story of Kershaw or Gonsolin.

    Alcantara and Kershaw both pitched on Friday. That would give them three days of rest between then and an All-Star start. Gonsolin and Musgrove will be on full rest.

    If all four pitchers throw on Tuesday, the NL could trot them out in some order and feel terrific about its winning chances, especially with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole not pitching for the AL. Verlander and Cole pitched on Saturday and Sunday.

    AL manager Dusty Baker from the Houston Astros should choose between McClanahan, the AL Cy Young front-runner, and Ohtani, the most dynamic player in baseball, to start on the mound. Ohtani will start the game as the AL's designated hitter.

    Baker could use McClanahan and Ohtani in back-to-back innings to counter whichever combination the NL throws in the first two innings.

    McClanahan, Alcantara and Gonsolin are first, second and fourth, respectively, in ERA in the majors. McClanahan, Ohtani and Alcantara all rank in the top 10 in strikeouts. Musgrove ranks in the top 10 in ERA and earned runs conceded,

    Kershaw does not fit into those categories because he was on the injured list earlier this season, but he proved in his perfect game bid on Friday that he still has some of the nastiest stuff in the game.

    The appearances from all the pitchers listed above could result in a low-scoring first few innings, even with the likes of Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts and Giancarlo Stanton at the plate.

    If that is the case, the pressure will be on the managers to pick the right matchups for their long list of reserves to enter into.

What Impact Will Dodgers Stars Have Inside Home Stadium?

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have six players on the NL roster.

    Gonsolin, Kershaw and Tyler Anderson are on the pitching staff, Mookie Betts and Trea Turner will start in the outfield and at shortstop, and Freddie Freeman is a reserve.

    The Dodgers' collection of All-Stars could make a massive impact on the exhibition inside their home stadium.

    Gonsolin is the freshest of the Dodgers pitchers since his last outing was on Wednesday. Anderson last pitched on Thursday, and Kershaw was on the mound on Friday.

    Each of the Dodgers' All-Star pitchers owns an ERA under 3.00. Gonsolin and Anderson have 21 wins between them, and Kershaw is 7-2 despite a spell on the injured list.

    The Dodgers trio could pitch in consecutive innings, or they could at least dominate the NL's pitching plan in the first five frames.

    Betts and Turner will likely get two at-bats each before a slew of reserves come into the game around the fifth inning.

    Freeman may have a chance to make the biggest impact on the game when he steps to the plate in the latter innings.

    The Dodgers first baseman was named to the All-Star squad on Sunday as a replacement. He has been on a hitting tear over the last week after he was snubbed by the initial roster.

    Freeman had six multi-hit performances in his last seven games, and he hit three home runs in the last week.

    Freeman could split time with C.J. Cron at first base, or he could be used as a DH depending on Snitker's plans.

    There is a chance Freeman gets two at-bats as a reserve because he is playing in his home stadium. Snitker was his long-time manager in Atlanta, and he could grant Freeman that honor.

    Although the roles of four Dodgers players are undetermined as of Monday morning, at least one of them should make a large impact on Tuesday's contest and make a push toward being the Most Valuable Player.

Will American League Continue Winning Streak?

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    The American League comes into Tuesday night with an eight-game winning streak in the All-Star Game.

    The American League kept this streak alive despite playing five of the last six All-Star Games in National League parks.

    All of the victories in that stretch have come by three runs or fewer, so it's not like the AL is overwhelming the NL. The AL team is just coming up with more clutch hits in the final few innings of games.

    The NL appears to have the edge in starting pitching on Tuesday, but those hurlers have to go up against Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

    Tim Anderson, Rafael Devers and Alejandro Kirk are hard players to get out as well. Byron Buxton and Andres Gimenez fill out the AL starting lineup as replacements for Mike Trout and Jose Altuve.

    The AL lineup may not bash consecutive home runs like it is capable of, but it could produce a few timely hits to earn a small edge before the reserves enter the fray.

    A year ago. Judge, Devers and Guerrero played important roles in getting out to an early lead. Judge walked in his first at-bat, Devers doubled and then Judge scored on a Marcus Semien single. Guerrero hit a home run in the third inning.

    An early AL lead could spell trouble for the home side since the reigning champion holds the advantage in the bullpen.

    Clay Holmes, Emmanuel Clase, Jordan Romano, Liam Hendriks, Jorge Lopez and Gregory Soto all rank in the top 15 in the majors in saves. The NL roster only boasts three players in the top 15 in saves, including saves leader Josh Hader.

    The AL's advantage with pitchers who are familiar with one-inning, pressure-packed situations might make the difference, especially if an early lead is earned by the starters.

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