SAN DIEGO – While Major League Baseball issues weekly updates on All-Star voting by fans, the two biggest starting spots won’t be determined by ballpark ballots or online clicks.
Instead, managers John Farrell and Mike Matheny will determine the starting pitchers for each team.
Yes, the game isn’t for another three weeks. But it’s never too early to speculate on such things.
There is a mitigating factor in their selections, which is whether a pitcher started on the Sunday before the game — making them ineligible to pitch in the game.
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At this point, Farrell’s decision seems to come down to three candidates — Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees, Mark Buehrle of the Blue Jays and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.
Tanaka seems like the easy choice. He’s got an 11-1 record and a sparkling 1.99 earned-run average as a rookie. He’s posted quality starts in all 14 starts this season, and he’s struck out 113 batters (second in the AL) in 991/3 innings pitched. He’s been dominant.
But would a Red Sox manager really pick a Yankee to start the All-Star Game?
Farrell might get bailed out of the dilemma. Looking ahead, there is a strong possibility that Tanaka will start Sunday before the All-Star Game, making him ineligible.
Deciding between the remaining two might be as easy. Hernandez has an 8-2 record. And while win-loss record has little meaning to some, managers still look at it. Hernandez has been brilliant, posting a 2.22 ERA and striking out 122 batters — most in the American League. He’s also leading the AL in innings pitched at 1131/3. Four times this season he’s pitched seven innings or more and allowed one run or less and didn’t get a win. Once he even took the loss.
If the Mariners don’t skip a starter because of two off days, Hernandez should be in the clear for starting.
Buehrle has a 10-4 record with a 2.32 ERA. He’s pitched twice against Farrell’s team, beating the Red Sox in Fenway in May. He’s a veteran pitcher and well respected in the game. But his numbers aren’t as dominant as Hernandez or Tanaka. Other outside candidates might be Yu Darvish of Texas or Scott Kazmir of the A’s.
The decision on the National League side isn’t quite as convoluted for Matheny. The best pitcher in the league is on his own team. Adam Wainwright is 10-3 with a 2.08 ERA. He’s thrown two shutouts and has 98 strikeouts in 1081/3 innings pitched with just 21 walks. As long as Wainwright doesn’t pitch on that Sunday before — and Matheny can control that — it seems likely he will be the starter.
Other candidates include Zack Greinke of the Dodgers, who is 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 15 starts, and lefty Madison Bumgarner, who is 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA for the Giants.
But if Wainwright can start, you have to figure he will get the nod from his manager.
The Texas Rangers must bring out the anger in teams. Seattle fans know all about Logan Morrison losing a fight with his bat in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers. Morrison smashed his bat against a dugout wall and a large piece of it came back to hit him above the eye, causing a huge welt and a nasty gash that required five stitches.
“Obviously I acted like a 3-year-old,” Morrison said after the game. “No matter how bad I’m playing, I can’t do that.”
But on Monday, Oakland starter Drew Pomeranz did something worse. Frustrated with his outing of just 32/3 innings against Texas, he punched a wooden clubhouse chair with his right hand, fracturing it. Pomeranz is left-handed, so he followed the old baseball rule of never punching someone with your pitching hand. The adage didn’t mention anything about chairs. Still, Pomeranz was forced to go on the disabled list.
“It was stupid,” Pomeranz admitted. “Obviously, it was something I didn’t want to happen. I want to pitch for this team. At least it wasn’t my left hand.”
Around the bases
• Clayton Kershaw threw the second no-hitter of the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night. It was the first no-hitter at Dodger Stadium since Ramon Martinez accomplished the feat on July 14, 1995. That’s a span of 6,915 days. The San Diego Padres have yet to throw a no-hitter, either at home or on the road. Fans have waited 16,509 days since the team’s first home game on April 8, 1969.
• The Giants signed Cuban defector Daniel Carbonell — a 23-year-old outfielder — to a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $1.4 million, a $1 million signing bonus and $100,000 a year in the minors. Carbonell is expected to start at Class A San Jose.
• Eight days ago, Jimmy Rollins passed Mike Schmidt to take over the Phillies’ franchise lead in career hits with 2,235. He joins Derek Jeter (Yankees), Ichiro (Mariners) and David Wright (Mets) as the only active players to have led a franchise in hits.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish