2015 MLB All-Star Game preview: Lineups, starting pitchers and more
Facing a lineup featuring three Royals, ex-Royals Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and his National League teammates will try to break the American League's recent dominance of the Midsummer Classic tonight on Fox at 7:30 p.m. ET. The AL has won two in a row and 14 of the last 18, including nine of 12 since the event became tied to home-field advantage in the World Series. Despite that recent dominance, the NL still holds the upper hand in the all-time series, 43–40–2. The home team—this time the NL, since the game is being played at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark—holds a 45–38 edge, though it has won just three of the last 10 contests.
1. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
4. Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners
5. Lorenzo Cain, RF, Royals
6. Adam Jones, LF, Orioles
7. Salvador Perez, C, Royals
8. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
9. Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros
Inevitably, injuries have forced a few changes from among those players voted in by the fans. Alex Gordon, who was elected as a starting outfielder, suffered a Grade 2 left groin strain while colliding with the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard in leftfield last Wednesday and could be out for eight weeks. Jones was named to start by dint of having received the most votes among the AL reserve outfielders, running his streak of All-Star Game starts to three; this was his fifth selection overall. Meanwhile, Pujols is replacing Miguel Cabrera, who is on the disabled list due to a calf strain that will sideline him for six weeks. It's the 35-year-old slugger's first appearance for the AL, his first starting nod since 2010 and his 10th appearance overall.
Despite those changes, the AL lineup does have a considerable air of familiarity to it, as Cruz, Donaldson, Perez and Trout all started last year, along with Jones. This is Trout's third straight start (and fourth straight appearance) as well, though his first in centerfield after two in left. Cruz (a four-time All-Star) and Donaldson (a two-timer) are wearing different uniforms than last year, with the former having signed with the Mariners as a free agent and the latter traded by the Athletics in one of the winter's more surprising blockbusters. Cain and Escobar are both making their first appearances, and Altuve is making his third, although it's his first start.
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, Reds
3. Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
5. Buster Posey, C, Giants
6. Anthony Rizzo, DH, Cubs
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cardinals
8. Joc Pederson, LF, Dodgers
9. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers
The NL's lineup has required even more changes than that of the AL due to a trio of injuries. Matt Holliday, out since June 8 due to a quad strain, was replaced by the rookie Pederson, who has already wowed the Cincinnati crowd with a runner-up finish in Monday night's Home Run Derby. Giancarlo Stanton, the NL's leading home run hitter with 27, suffered a broken hamate bone in his left wrist on June 27 and was replaced by McCutchen, who led off last year for the NL and is making his fifth straight All-Star appearance. Dee Gordon, who dislocated his left thumb on Saturday, was replaced by LeMahieu, who's making his All-Star debut.
From among the rest, turnover is something of a theme, in part due to injuries and aging. Goldschmidt is the only returning starter from 2014; he's making his third All-Star appearance in a row. Harper is the only player here who started in '13; he missed last year due to injury and is making the third appearance of his career. Posey, the only player here who started in '12, is making his third appearance overall. Frazier, who won Monday's Home Run Derby, and Rizzo are both making their second straight appearance and first start. Peralta is making his first start after being selected as a reserve twice for the AL.
AL manager Ned Yost chose Keuchel after considering Chris Archer, 2014 starter Felix Hernandez, David Price and Chris Sale, with Sonny Gray ruled out because he started on Sunday. The Astros' 27-year-old lefty currently leads the league in innings (137 1/3), WAR (4.7) and—because let's face it, we know which metric Yost looks at first—wins (11, tied with Hernandez). He's second in ERA at 2.23, behind Gray's 2.04, and has thrown more scoreless starts (six, including two complete-game shutouts) than any other AL pitcher. This is his first All-Star selection of any type.
On the NL side, where Clayton Kershaw's 41-inning scoreless streak and 1.78 ERA were not enough for 2014 NL All-Star manager Mike Matheny to anoint him the starter for last year's game in Minneapolis, teammate Greinke—currently amid a 35 2/3 inning scoreless streak and carrying a 1.39 ERA—got the nod from '15 skipper Bruce Bochy. For as strong a case as the Dodgers' 31-year-old righty made via his first half, he benefited from top alternative Max Scherzer starting for the Nationals on Sunday, thus making him ineligible to pitch on Tuesday night. The NL leader in innings (132), FIP (2.20) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.7) and the owner of a 16 1/3-inning hitless streak — a stretch that included a near-perfect game against the Pirates—Scherzer held an edge in even more statistical categories until a rough start on June 7. As things now stand, Greinke holds the NL lead in WAR (5.5, with Scherzer second at 4.7) as well as ERA.
Greinke has thrown 17 quality starts out of 18, allowed one run or fewer in 14 of his 18 starts, and more than three runs just once, in Colorado on June 2. His seven scoreless starts this year are an MLB high, and while he has yet to complete a game, he has thrown at least six innings in every start. As Jon Tayler pointed out after Greinke's eight-inning, one-hit showing against the Phillies, he has the lowest first-half ERA since 1968, when Bob Gibon (1.06), Luis Tiant (1.24) and Don Drysdale (1.37) all carried even more microscopic marks into the break. Drysdale had recently completed his record-setting 58 2/3-inning scoreless streak, while Gibson was en route to a modern-record 1.12 ERA for the season.
Position players: Russell Martin (C, Blue Jays), Stephen Vogt (C, A's), Mark Teixeira (1B, Yankees), Brian Dozier (2B, Twins), Jason Kipnis (2B, Indians), Jose Iglesias (SS, Tigers), Manny Machado (3B, Orioles), Mike Moustakas (3B, Royals), Brock Holt (IF, Red Sox), Brett Gardner (OF, Yankees), J.D. Martinez (OF, Tigers), Prince Fielder (DH, Rangers)
Pitchers: Chris Archer (SP, Rays), Dellin Betances (RP, Yankees), Brad Boxberger (RP, Rays), Zach Britton (RP, Orioles), Wade Davis (RP, Royals), Felix Hernandez (SP, Mariners), Kelvin Herrera (RP, Royals), Darren O'Day (RP, Orioles), Glen Perkins (RP, Twins), David Price (SP, Tigers), Chris Sale (SP, White Sox), Hector Santiago (SP, Angels)
Injured/Ineligible to play: Jose Bautista (OF, Blue Jays), Miguel Cabrera (1B, Tigers), Alex Gordon (OF, Royals), Sonny Gray (SP, A's)
Gardner, making his well-deserved first All-Star appearance, was the injury replacement for Gordon. That dropped him out of the Final Vote competition, which was won by Moustakas. Dozier, who was also among the Final Vote candidates, was added to the roster to replace Bautista, who's sitting out due to a sore shoulder. Santiago was named to the roster to replace Gray, who started for the A's on Sunday.
Position players: Yasmani Grandal (C, Dodgers), Yadier Molina (C, Cardinals), Adrian Gonzalez (1B, Dodgers), Joe Panik (2B, Giants), Brandon Crawford (SS, Giants), Troy Tulowitzki (SS, Rockies), Nolan Arenado (3B, Rockies), Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs), Ryan Braun (OF, Brewers), A.J. Pollock (OF, Diamondbacks), Justin Upton (OF, Padres)
Pitchers: Madison Bumgarner (SP, Giants), A.J. Burnett (SP, Pirates), Aroldis Chapman (RP, Reds), Gerrit Cole (SP, Pirates), Jacob deGrom (SP, Mets), Clayton Kershaw (SP, Dodgers), Carlos Martinez (SP, Cardinals), Mark Melancon (RP, Pirates), Shelby Miller (SP, Braves), Jonathan Papelbon (RP, Phillies), Francisco Rodriguez (RP, Brewers), Trevor Rosenthal (RP, Cardinals), Michael Wacha (SP, Cardinals)
Injured/Ineligible: Dee Gordon (2B, Marlins), Matt Holliday (OF, Cardinals), Max Scherzer (SP, Nationals),
Martinez won the NL Final Vote, while Kershaw, another candidate in the contest, was named to the team to replace Scherzer. Tulowitzki was added to the roster to replace Gordon, and Braun was added to replace Holliday.