Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated whether the Yankees will challenge the single-season wins record. This week we're talking All-Star Game starters.
Who should be the All-Star Game starting pitchers?
R.J. Anderson: I'm a sucker for pitchers getting the nod in their home stadiums. As such, I'll go with Tony Gonsolin (who, it should be noted, leads qualifiers in ERA) on the National League side. Shane McClanahan deserves the nod for the American League club, but I'm not going to feel cheated if Justin Verlander gets it instead as a way of honoring his career accomplishments and his return to form following Tommy John surgery.
Dayn Perry: I always default toward actual stars when it comes to All-Star Game selections, so I'll go with Verlander in the AL even though you can argue he's not the most deserving based on the numbers. And, yes, sign me up for the home team getting the starting pitcher whenever possible, so I'll sign on to the Gonsolin idea.
Matt Snyder: I've long been in the camp that while the All-Star Game is absolutely a showcase of established stars, there's also plenty of room to showcase the stars of the season. "Look what this guy you might not know is doing this season" to casual fans, if you will. I mention this because there are a decent number of casual baseball fans who will tune into the All-Star Game but also aren't really familiar with Sandy Alcantara. He has a 1.82 ERA while also leading the majors in batters faced and innings pitched. He has three outings of nine innings. He's a true workhorse and in a time where the number of those types continues to wane, letting him shine as an example of what could (should?) be in a starting pitcher makes him my choice in blowout fashion.
On the AL side, I'm on board with Verlander. He's been one of the best pitchers in the league and his return from Tommy John surgery to perform like this at age 39 is brilliance deserving of the nod. Also, this would be his third ASG start and only 15 others have done that before, so it's a cool historic nugget for a Hall of Famer (for those curious, the record is five: Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez and Robin Roberts while Randy Johnson, Max Scherzer and Jim Palmer each started four).
Mike Axisa: Who deserves it based on 2022 performance? I'll say Alcantara and McClanahan, though I'd be more than cool with deferring to Gonsolin in his home ballpark. Now that the All-Star Game is a meaningless exhibition (remember when the All-Star Game determined home field advantage in the World Series? that was wild), I am in favor of showcasing stars and big names, and trying to promote and grow the game as much as possible. Because of that, I want Clayton Kershaw vs. Shohei Ohtani.
Think about it. Kershaw in Dodger Stadium? That's a no-brainer. He's a future Hall of Famer and no worse than the third best pitcher of his generation, and it's not like he's undeserving. Kershaw's been excellent around his back injury. Kershaw starting the All-Star Game in Dodger Stadium would be extremely cool. As for Ohtani, he is the game's biggest star right now (and he's been great the last two months) and he's another local guy from the American League's
Los Angeles Southern California team.
Alcantara (or Gonsolin) vs. McClanahan is the "correct" answer based on their seasons to date. The way I see, Kershaw vs. Ohtani in Los Angeles is a once in a lifetime marketing opportunity. With all due respect, that's the matchup that will bring the most attention to the MLB All-Star Game and put maximum eyeballs on the sport.