Pitchers to Watch:
- Matt Cain: Matt Cain will get the start for the National League, and while he might not be the best choice it’s hard to say he hasn’t earned the honor. With a record of 9-3 with and an ERA of 2.62 Cain has been his typical lights-out self. On top of that, he also added a perfect game. It’s not surprising then that Tony LaRussa opted for Matt Cain over other, arguably more deserving candidates. Starting tonight’s game serves only to further pad what has already been an impressive early career résumé for Matt Cain.
R.A. Dickey: Dickey isn’t getting the start tonight and that’s a shame. With a record of 12-1 to go along with a 2.40 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, Dickey has been the best pitcher in all of baseball by far. Of course, Cain did throw a perfect game, an accomplishment in its own right, so it’s hard to begrudge LaRussa too much for the move. Either way, tonight’s game will provide Dickey, who’s had an amazing journey to stardom, a chance to showcase his wicked knuckleball on one of the biggest stages imaginable. Of course there is the issue of who’s going to catch him. His inning or two of work could end up being as comically ugly as it is beautiful.
- Gio Gonzalez: Stephen Strasburg gets all of the accolades in Washington, and rightfully so, but Gonzalez has been just as incredible. He’s 12-3 on the year with a 2.92 ERA. In other words, Gonzalez has been absolutely unhittable. It’s especially interesting considering Strasburg’s management induced innings limit. We may be looking at the Nationals’ No. 1 starter come October if they make it to the playoffs and if management follows through on shutting Strasburg down come the 180th inning of his season. There are some bigger names on this roster in terms of star appeal, but don’t be surprised if Gonzalez steals some headlines.
- Clayton Kershaw: Kershaw is one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball. As the ace of the Dodgers’ pitching staff he’s making fans reminiscent of the days of Sandy Koufax. While he may not be on pace to match last years’ 21-5 mark and 2.28 ERA, he’s still a handful even on his worst days. The scariest part of all with Kershaw is the fact he’s only 24 years old and is already as dominant as he is. He’s only going to get better.
- Aroldis Chapman: Out of all the relievers on the National League roster, none of them turn heads quite like Aroldis Chapman. Having a fastball that regularly maxes out somewhere between 100 and 102 mph will do that. Despite his issues off the field and his childish antics on it, Chapman is one hell of a pitcher. Cincinnati fans had been crying out for two years now to see Chapman inserted into the starting rotation, but it seems like he’s found a home as the team’s closer for the next decade. There was a slight hiccup during interleague play, but ever since returning to intraleague play, Chapman has been lights out. When he takes the mound tonight, be prepared to see the radar gun light up.