Bryce Harper fulfilled the collective hope of the Washington D.C. crowd on Monday night by triumphing in the Home Run Derby, using a wicked comeback in the last minute to down Kyle Schwarber.
Now it’s the Nationals’ other mega-star’s turn to be the best of the best in front of his club’s fans. Max Scherzer takes the ball for the NL against the loaded lineup of the American League.
Before getting into the ridiculous American League lineup, it should be noted that Chris Sale takes the ball for AJ Hinch on a run of historical significance. No other pitcher has struck out at least 11 batters and walked no more than one in five straight starts, as Sale has done coming into this game. He was an underdog to start this game, with Luis Severino seemingly in the driver’s seat, until that wicked run. He will become the first pitcher since Robin Roberts in the 50s to start three consecutive All-Star Games and the first Boston pitcher to start more than one.
Of course, last season in Houston Sale opposed Max Scherzer, who comes into the game leading the league in strikeouts per nine (12.2) and hits allowed per nine (5.8). His WHIP also leads the league at less than 0.90.
Scherzer won’t go any more than two innings but those will be more than enough to get his fill of ridiculously tough outs. Hinch is batting Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve and Mike Trout 1-2-3 in the order with JD Martinez fourth, Jose Ramirez fifth and Aaron Judge sixth. It falls off from there, starting with Manny Machado at seven. Eek.
Watching Scherzer trying to traverse those first two innings is the big draw, for me, to watch the start of this game. And if we know anything about Mad Max, who is going to be pumped in front of his home crowd, he can do it.
But those guys aren’t going to come out of the game after just one time through the lineup and I’m concerned about whoever the National League throws out after Scherzer. The pitching was really good last season because guys could come in and pump it up for one inning. So rather than try and play the over, I’m going to take the chalk and play the American League to win it on the road at -120.
Free Pick: American League -120