Ah, it’s good to be back, isn’t it? The American League (45-43 all-time) takes on the National League (43-45) for the first time in over two year at the 91st annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The AL looks to stretch its seven-game winning streak in the Midsummer Classic over the Senior Circuit, as well as improve to three games over .500 in the all-time matchup.
Los Angeles Angels baseball player — calling him simply a pitcher does not do him justice — Shohei Ohtani (4-1, 3.49 ERA, 3.57 FIP) gets the ball first for the AL. The first-time All-Star has been absolutely electric on the mound this season: out of AL starting pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings, he is sixth with a 30.7 strikeout percentage and ninth in barrel percentage (6.5 percent), and he has accrued as much fWAR (1.5) in 67 innings as Oakland’s Frankie Montas and Toronto’s Robby Ray have in 100 innings. Ohtani is the second Japanese pitcher to be named the starting pitcher in an All-Star Game after Hideo Nomo, and the first to do so for the American League.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.66 ERA, 3.31 FIP) will get the nod for the NL. Although no longer in the uppermost stratosphere of starting pitching — that honor belongs to Jacob deGrom, who skipped the festivities — the 36-year-old is still one of the league’s premier pitchers, and a player who will be much-coveted at this year’s deadline should the Nationals decide to sell. This will be Scherzer’s fourth time starting the All-Star Game, and his third nod in four games.
Aaron Judge, one of three Yankees to make the trip to Denver and probably the only one we will see in action tonight (Gerrit Cole pitched a ton on Saturday and Aroldis Chapman is his own problem), will start in right field and bat cleanup for Kevin Cash’s squad, sandwiched right between Red Sox infielders Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. It will be Judge’s first time batting fourth since September 2, 2017.
The real story, however, will be DH Shohei Ohtani, who will be leading off. He has been absolutely insane at the plate, ranking second in the AL with a 180 wRC+ and 4.0 fWAR, as well as pacing all of baseball with 33 home runs. Once upon a time, we spoke of Ohtani as possessing a top bat for a pitcher; now, he’s simply one of the league’s top bats, period. MLB has allowed the AL to essentially treat Ohtani as two players, so when he’s done pitching, he will remain the DH.
Get ready for Sho’ Time, because tonight, you’re watching history.
How to watch
Location: Coors Field — Denver, CO
First pitch: 7:30 pm ET
TV broadcast: FOX
Radio broadcast: ESPN Radio
Online stream: MLB.tv
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The AL and NL lineups are stacked pic.twitter.com/qxNpeiKd5d— All-Star Game (@AllStarGame) July 12, 2021