The American League asserted itself in the Home Run Derby last night with three of the four semi-finalists, both finalists and the champion, Aaron Judge.
Judge hit 47 home runs – including a few the Internet is playing over and over – in three rounds of the relatively new format Major League Baseball introduced in 2015, which has been a resounding success. He needed about half of those just to advance past the first round when his opponent Justin Bour hit 22, the best to that point. Victories over Cody Bellinger and Miguel Sano in the semis and finals, respectively, were more routine.
Judge will be starting for the American League in tonight’s All-Star Game, so will Sano, as the National League, which is hosting this thing, looks for redemption.
Two of the three best starting pitchers in baseball this season will face each other at the outset. Chris Sale will start for the American League after last pitching on Thursday. Max Scherzer opposes him after starting his last game on Friday.
Sale leads the AL in strikeouts; Scherzer leads the NL. They are 1-2 in the league, Scherzer five K’s behind Sale and has recorded two more outs on the season. Sale also has one more win and one less loss but Scherzer’s first half has Sale’s beat, otherwise. The righty has a 0.79 WHIP, a .163 BAA and a 2.10 ERA compared to Sale’s 0.90/.200/2.75. I’m expecting this one to be 0-0 after two innings, unless somebody gets one of these guys for a dinger, which is possible. Sale and Scherzer have given up 24 home runs in the first half, combined.
It’s tough to know who will be available, and for how long, from there. Brad Mills will likely give Lance McCullers Jr. at least an inning because he’s the most well-rested pitcher on his roster. Yu Darvish, Corey Kluber and Chris Archer probably won’t throw because each of them started on Sunday. That leaves long guys like Jason Vargas and Luis Severino for the NL to do damage against before Dellin Betances and Craig Kimbrel come in.
Zack Greinke and Alex Wood are definite go’s for the NL. But two of the NL’s relievers are guys who were the only possible representatives from their team. Pat Neshek has actually been a good reliever for a long time, though I don’t totally trust him and Brad Hand has also been pretty darn good after a breakout season last year for San Diego. It often comes down to how many pitchers each side really has available and the NL is in pretty good shape.
If you look at recent history, the game has gone low just about every time and this year has one of the highest totals we’ve seen at 9.0. An All-Star Game hasn’t seen 10 runs or more since 2005. Let’s not get crazy.
Free Pick: Under 9.0 (-120)