No middle reliever has been more dominant this season than the
Angels' Brendan Donnelly. In 38 innings through Sunday, Donnelly
had struck out 45 and had an 0.47 ERA, lowest of all pitchers
with at least nine innings.
Donnelly's superb first-half performance is worthy of strong
All-Star consideration, and his chances would seem to be good,
given that middle relievers have become trendy roster picks. But
Donnelly's status as a replacement player (he signed with the
Reds during the 1994-95 strike) could prevent him from being
selected to the midsummer classic.
A new voting system, which goes into effect this year, allows
players, coaches and managers to choose eight All-Star pitchers
per league. And since the votes are not weighted, giving players
more say, Donnelly could be left out. The players' association
won't admit replacement players as members, and even though
Donnelly was a significant contributor to Anaheim's championship
run last fall (going 1-0 with 7 2/3 shutout innings in the World
Series), the union didn't allow his name to be included on any
World Series souvenir merchandise.
No one knows Donnelly's credentials better than Angels skipper
Mike Scioscia, who will manage the AL team. But Scioscia may have
to add players from as many as five clubs--Baltimore, Cleveland,
Detroit, Kansas City and Tampa Bay--that probably won't have any
"Brendan certainly deserves to be an All-Star," says
centerfielder Darin Erstad. "He's been huge for us. Find me
someone that's been better than him [out of the bullpen]."