It is approaching the middle of July, which means it is time for the Midsummer Classic as the National League and American League will do battle in the All-Star Game, this year held at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The managers for this one will be Dave Roberts (Dodgers) for the National League and Alex Cora (Red Sox) for the American League. Starters for this one will feature Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-2, 1.73 ERA) for the National League against Justin Verlander (10-4, 2.98 ERA) for the American League. First pitch for this one is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET.
The moneyline for this contest is set at the National League +100 and the American League -120. The over/under for runs scored is set at 8.5.
By The Numbers
There are some interesting trends around the All-Star Game, but the two most interesting ones are:
* The American League is 24-6-1 straight up over the last 31 games (the 1 being the infamous called game that was a tie, leading to the “it counts this time” movement).
* In eight of the last 13 games, the total has been seven or less, indicating that it is definitely a pitcher’s duel.
National League Looking To Buck The Trend
While the American League has certainly had success over the last few decades, this year’s NL All-Star team looks especially potent, at least on paper. Their starting lineup is as follows:
1. Christian Yelich, LF, Brewers
2. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
4. Cody Bellinger, RF, Dodgers
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
6. Josh Bell, DH, Pirates
7. Willson Contreras, C, Cubs
8. Ketel Marte, 2B, Diamondbacks
9. Ronald Acuna Jr, CF, Braves
To say the least, that lineup is quite intimidating. Between Yelich (.329/.433/.707 and 31 home runs), Freeman (.309/.394/.584 with 23 home runs), Bellinger (.336/.432/.692 with 30 home runs) and Bell (.302/.376/.648 with 27 home runs), they have power for days from the left side. That is taking nothing away from their righties, who are lethal as well.
Pitching-wise, the All-Star Game generally sees most pitchers only going one (sometimes two) innings before passing it off to the next person. This year, though, Hyun-Jin Ryu will get the start. On the season, he is 10-2 with a 1.73 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and opponents are hitting .221 against him. In 109 innings, he has allowed 89 hits, 21 earned runs, 10 home runs and 99 strikeouts versus just 10 walks. Other notable pitchers for the National League include Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Felipe Vazquez, Kirby Yates, Luis Castillo, and others.
AL Hopes To Take Care Of Business Again
The American League has had a lot of success lately, and they really hope not to change that trend this year. The starting lineup of the American League looks like this:
1. George Springer, RF, Astros
2. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Yankees
3. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
4. Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians
5. J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox
6. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
7. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
8. Michael Brantley, LF, Astros
9. Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins
The first place that you have to start with this lineup is Trout. He is arguably the best player in the game and possibly one of the best to ever play the sport. This season Trout is hitting .301/.453/.646 with 28 home runs, 67 runs batted in and 71 runs scored. He, once again, proves to be one of the most stellar players in the game. While the starters may see the majority of the game, it is the reserves that finish it out. Some notable players to watch coming in late include Mookie Betts (.272/.392/.467 with 13 home runs), Joey Gallo (.275/.417/.643 with 20 home runs) and Austin Meadows (.289/.364/.502 with 12 home runs).
On the pitching side, Justin Verlander gets the start for the AL. On the season, Verlander is 10-4 with a 2.98 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .168 against him. In 126 2/3 innings, he has allowed 76 hits, 42 earned runs, 26 home runs, and has struck out 153 versus just 27 walks. One area that I do like the American League roster is in their relief pitching. Ryan Pressly, Shane Greene, Brad Hand, and Aroldis Chapman make for a formidable end of the game relief core.
National League Bucks The Trend
I will be honest in saying that the All-Star Game can be a crapshoot. Still, I really like the NL lineup this year. Despite Verlander’s great stats this year, he has struggled at giving up the long ball (24 this season), and that could be trouble with Yelich, Baez, Freeman, and Bellinger at the top of the lineup. Again, it could go either way, but for my money, I am rolling the dice on the National League at +120.