Astros lead MLB with six players chosen for ASG

Justin Verlander, Ryan Pressly, Gerrit Cole join Houston's three starters

June 30th, 2019

HOUSTON -- For the third year in a row, the Astros will be well-represented at the All-Star Game after right-handed pitchers , and were named to American League squad on Sunday.

Astros third baseman and outfielders and were voted in as starters by the fans on Thursday. The pitchers and reserves announced Sunday were voted on by the players, managers and coaches, as well as by Major League Baseball.

“When you’re selected, it’s really humbling to know that the rest of the professional baseball world respects what you do,” Cole said. “I take my vote seriously when I cast them for other starting pitchers. It means a lot. It’s really special, it’s really unique and I’m very humbled.”

Pressly, a reliever the Astros acquired from the Twins at the Trade Deadline last year, will be the only Astros player making his first All-Star Game appearance. Verlander, a candidate to start the game for the AL, is making his eighth All-Star appearance and Cole his third (his second in a row with Houston).

“I think it’s one of those things earlier on in my career, after you start going to a few in a row, you kind of start taking it for granted,” Verlander said. “After some injuries and some down years and missing it for a few years in a row, it gave me a new appreciation for how much I enjoy these games and really the enjoyment of being elected by your peers and really the opportunity to go represent your ball club, yourself and the game of baseball in such a big manner is an opportunity and a blessing.”

The 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard will be played on Tuesday, July 9, at Progressive Field in Cleveland. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

Verlander, 36, joins a group of 20 pitchers to be named to at least eight All-Star teams, a group that features 19 Hall of Famers. Verlander entered Sunday leading the AL in innings pitched (119 2/3), WHIP (0.79) and opponent batting average (.162) while ranking inside the top five in wins (tied first, 10), strikeouts (third, 147) and ERA (fifth, 2.86).

Verlander is a candidate to start the All-Star Game. That decision would be made by AL manager Alex Cora in the days leading up to the game.

“I’ve had the opportunity to do it before,” he said. “It’s a pretty unique event. It’s a very different feeling. It was a lot of fun.”

Cole, 28, received his second consecutive All-Star selection, and the third of his career (2015, ‘18 and ‘19). He struck out 10 batters in seven innings in a victory over the Mariners on Sunday to improve to 8-5 with a 3.28 ERA and an American League-leading 161 strikeouts.

Astros manager AJ Hinch held a team meeting a couple of hours prior to Sunday’s win and told the three pitchers they were headed to Cleveland.

“We have a tight-knit group and we like to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and I think that’s what makes this team unique,” Cole said.

The All-Star nod for Pressly, 30, comes nearly one year after joining the Astros in a trade from the Twins. Pressly has been one of the elite relief pitchers in the Majors in that time, including a 1.47 ERA, 41 strikeouts, four walks and 0.74 WHIP in 36 2/3 innings this year.

“It’s a huge honor and I’m very thankful for it,” Pressly said. “As a little kid you dream of being an All-Star. AJ was out here in a meeting and he let me know I made the team. It was kind of an out of body experience, so I was really happy.”

Brantley, who signed a two-year deal with the Astros prior to this season after 10 years with the Indians, is making his fourth All-Star Game appearance and first start (he was a reserve in 2014, ‘17 and ‘18). Bregman, last year’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, is making his second All-Star appearance and is a first-time starter. Springer is an All-Star for the third year in a row and a starter for the second time (his first start coming in ‘17).