Fans of the Dodgers shouldn’t want to see it any other way—their beloved No. 22 slotting into the rotation to squeeze in two more turns before the 2017 All-Star break. And even though he’s yet to start an All-Star contest for the National League during his already illustrious career, Clayton Kershaw realizes that a regular season victory or two certainly outweighs the importance of a single game which basically, in many senses, has become meaningless.
For those not keeping up with the times, the 14-year standing rule of the All-Star Game’s winning squad/league having home-field advantage in that season’s World Series went out the door with last year’s new collective bargaining agreement. Besides having the All-Star label added to their respective résumés, about the only incentive left for the players anymore is receiving a $20,000 paycheck if their particular squad comes out on top in the contest.
The Dodgers have recently reconfigured their starting rotation so Kershaw could take the hill on Tuesday at home against second-place Arizona. That sets him up to start in both the final game before the break and the first game after it—in essence, giving Kersh at least one more regular season start in the month of July. By starting the contest against the Royals on Sunday, he would become automatically ineligible to pitch in the Midsummer Classic set for Tuesday evening.
As it was almost certainly a decision fully supported by the lefty himself, it is also something that team management would have a hard time with which to disagree. Besides, the 29-year-old legend already has just about every notable honor attached to his name—the most illustrious being six previous All-Star nods, three NL Cy Young Awards, alongside one National League MVP. And, who knows, perhaps in the end, one meager game could hypothetically separate home field advantage for the vying squads contending in the World Series. Just imagine if it were the Dodgers who made it that far, providing the opportunity for the Greatest Pitcher on the Planet to open up the Series at home instead of on the road.
Consequently, and fitting enough, it could be Kersh’s teammate Alex Wood who assumes the vacated spot on the National League pitching staff. Many who are close to the Dodgers, including skipper Dave Roberts himself, thought it was ludicrous that Wood and third baseman Justin Turner were omitted from the NL roster. Besides each player enduring short disabled list stints earlier in the season, their respective numbers are at the top of the heap, even know both come just short of having the required number of qualifying statistics.
In a story on Monday, Eric Stephen of True Blue LA pointed out that among the 72 National League pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched this season, Wood is tops in ERA (1.83), FIP (2.11), and xFIP (2.58). His strikeout rate (30.2%) ranks third in this group, just ahead of Kershaw.
To give fans an idea of what Turner has accomplished, our own Andy Lane Chapman outlined a handful of his incredible first-half feats one day after both he and Wood were snubbed. She also provided the necessary links and tools to follow in order to show JT support in the All-Star Game’s final vote.
Both Wood and Turner would be making their very first All-Star appearances, if ultimately selected.
In the meantime, after a much needed off-day and being drowned in an overwhelming amount of All-Star clamor on Monday, the Boys in Blue get back to much more important business on Tuesday by beginning a very meaningful series against the second-place Diamondbacks. Taking the bump for Arizona and opposing Kershaw will be 27-year-old lefty Patrick Corbin. First pitch is slated for 9:10 p.m. local time.
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