- Special Features
Blogs & Columns
- Fun & Games
When the bright lights turn on this Tuesday at Target Field in Minneapolis, the best players in baseball will take the field for the 85th All-Star Game. And it would only be fitting if the best pitchers start the game to show off their stuff.
While there are a number of great pitchers in the game, the best selections to start are Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kershaw has been lights out recently. He had a streak of 41 2/3 straight scoreless innings, which is equivalent to four and a half complete games. This streak is the third longest in the last 45 years, reports the Elias Sports Bureau.
His 1.78 ERA leads all pitchers this year.
Since the beginning of June, he has won every start, going 8-0, and has given up a total of five runs, according to his player profile on ESPN. This stretch includes his no-hitter on June 18, in which he fanned 15 and did not issue any walks. He was one Hanley Ramirez error away from throwing the 24th perfect game. Many believe that it was one of the best pitching performances in baseball history.
Kershaw, a four-time All-Star, is having arguably the best season of his career. He is 11-2, which translates to a .846 winning percentage. In 2011, when he won his first Cy Young Award, he went 21-5 (.808 winning percentage). His WHIP this season is 0.830, better than any previous year. He has finished in the top two for the Cy Young Award in each of the last three seasons.
"He's a joke, this guy is incredible," Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright said about Kershaw during an ESPN interview. "He sets the bar."
Meanwhile, Hernandez, a five-time All-Star, boasts an 11-2 record with a 2.12 ERA this season. His ERA is just .04 behind Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale for the best in the AL. He is tied for second in the AL with his 11 wins. Losing just twice so far, he is tied for the fewest losses in the league among pitchers who have made at least 15 starts, according to ESPN's pitching leaders.
His 2.12 ERA is the lowest of his career and is .15 better than what he posted in 2010 (the year he won the Cy Young Award). His .846 winning percentage is the highest of his career, surpassing his winning percentage from 2009 when he went 19-5 (a .792 winning percentage), according to his page on Baseball-Reference.
In his last 11 starts, he has gone at least seven innings in each of these appearances. He has posted a 7-1 record in that stretch. In these 11 games, he has given up just 14 runs, which has lowered his ERA by nearly a full run (from 3.03 on May 12 to 2.12 on July 12). In June, he posted a whopping 1.22 ERA in six starts, reports his player profile on ESPN.
Hernandez’s success is a large part to why the Mariners (49-43) are off to their best start since 2007. If the season ended today, Seattle would make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
Hernandez seems to be a favorite to start the game for the AL since New York Yankees rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka got put on the disabled list this past week. Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and has sparked a lot of buzz so far as he seems to be living up to all the hype.
The All-Star Game will be on July 15 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. It should make how quite a game when the stars compete for home field in the World Series.