Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dodgers to send four to the All-Star Game

As the Dodgers were wrapping up a big 8-2 win in Colorado, keeping their lead in the NL West at a 1/2 game, the All-Stars were being unveiled on ESPN.

It turned out to be more good news, as the Dodgers will send four to Minnesota: Yasiel Puig will start in the outfield, Clayton Kershaw could start on the mound, Dee Gordon will back up Chase Utley at second, and Zack Greinke was picked by NL manager Mike Matheny.

Let's take a look at how each player got to represent the NL:

Yasiel Puig, OF: .307 AVG, .393 OBP, 23 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 7 SB
Puig was once the leading vote getter in the outfield, but then had to hold off a late surge by Giancarlo Stanton.  Nonetheless, with the game played in an AL park this year, Stanton will most likely get to start and hit DH anyway.  So hey, we're all happy.

Puig got robbed last year of an All-Star selection, so it was great to see him begin this season on such a tear that it carried all the way over to getting selected by the fans to start.  He's exciting enough to hit a homer, try to stretch a single into a double, or gun someone out at home.  You know he'll definitely be guns a' blazing, so stay tuned.

Let's just hope he doesn't pull every muscle in his body swinging for the fences in the Home Run Derby.  If he's chosen for that, of course.

Clayton Kershaw, SP: 10-2, 1.85 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 115 K's in 87 1/3 IP
Anyone who has a 36 inning scoreless streak (and counting, hopefully) deserves an All-Star nod.  An absolutely filthy month of June where he went 6-0 with an 0.82 ERA vaulted him right back to the top of the NL.

Now the question turns to whether or not Matheny will give the ball to Kershaw to start, or to his own Cardinal ace, Adam Wainwright.  You know how I feel - I'd go with Kershaw.  One, because he is  the best pitcher in the world, bar none.  The other reason is because he'll be on four days' rest, while Wainwright will be on two.  Granted, the starter won't go more than two innings most likely, so maybe the rest thing isn't that big of a deal.

But bottom line, I still think Kershaw should start.

Dee Gordon, 2B: .302 AVG, .356 OBP, 14 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 42 SB
What a comeback story this has been for Gordon.  Who in the world would've ever thought he'd not only be the starting second baseman for the Dodgers, but then play well enough to earn an All-Star nod?  It's hard for anyone to have envisioned this.

What Gordon has done is run wild, leading all of baseball in steals with 42 and triples with 9.  His defense has also gotten better and better each game, as people probably forget all about his disastrous, error filled stint as a shortstop.  Those days are long gone, as an offseason spent adding some bulk to his skinny frame has clearly paid off. 

Look for him to be a key player late in the game, as he'll be taking off for a steal at some point.

Zack Greinke, SP: 11-4, 2.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 119 K's in 111 2/3 IP
Greinke earns his first All-Star nod as a Dodger, and his second one in his career ('09 with the Royals).  It's been a typical Greinke-like year, as he quietly goes about his business of mowing down hitters.

Through the first two months of the season, his ERA stood at 2.18, so he's actually regressed just a bit of late.  But, what most likely got Matheny's attention was his seven inning, one run, 10 strikeout performance against the Cardinals on June 28.  If Matheny needed any extra motivation in picking him, that was it.

Since the NL is loaded with great pitchers, I wouldn't be surprised if Greinke is held off until late in the game to be one of those "emergency" pitchers in case there's extra innings.  Maybe not, but perhaps Matheny leans towards the pitchers who were selected by the players first.

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