Hometown kid Bednar makes first All-Star team

July 10th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Mars’ own is headed to the city of stars.

 was named a National League All-Star on Sunday, the first All-Star Game selection of his career.

Bednar has built off last season and has evolved into one of baseball’s best relievers. Even with a pair of recent outings that have skewed his numbers, Bednar has a 2.63 ERA and a career-high 15 saves across 41 innings.

“I don't even think I have words for it,” Bednar said Sunday after learning of his selection. “It's unbelievable. It takes me back to some of the guys who've done it before, the guys who I grew up watching, so to be a part of that group is really, really special.”

In May, Bednar won NL Reliever of the Month, posting a 1.65 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only two walks across 16 1/3 innings. Bednar recorded seven saves in the month alone, well usurping the three saves he recorded all of last season.

Bednar has helped orchestrate two of Pittsburgh’s signature moments this season, the first of which actually involved him blowing a save.

In late May at Dodger Stadium, Bednar allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, allowing the Dodgers to take a one-run lead. The Pirates responded by scoring two runs of their own in the top of the ninth inning. Bucs manager Derek Shelton provided Bednar with another opportunity to shut the door, and he locked down the win, throwing a then-career-high 50 pitches.

“Whenever things are going well, it’s easy,” Bednar said after the outing. “That’s the thing personally that I was most proud of, just going back out there and having that gritty outing and ultimately coming up with the win.”

Bednar had another lengthy and gutsy save on June 15 against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He recorded the game’s final eight outs, the longest outing of his career, to snap a nine-game losing streak. Bryan Reynolds, an All-Star starter last season, had the highest of praise for Bednar after the outing.

“Bednar’s a beast,” Reynolds said following the win. “I think he’s the best closer in the NL.”

Reynolds paused.

“I think he’s the best in baseball.”

The selection is even more special because Bednar isn’t just representing his team, but also the city where he grew up and attended the 2006 All-Star Futures Game -- which happened to feature a young infielder by the name of Neil Walker -- at PNC Park.

Because of those local roots, Shelton eschewed the usual bottle of champagne that marks such an occasion with something a little more appropriate.

“There was a case of [Iron City] Light,” Bednar said. “He knew the way to my heart.”