WASHINGTON -- Although National League manager Dave Roberts briefly considered some of his other options, deciding the starting pitcher for 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a simple decision.Max Scherzer will start the game for the second consecutive year and third in his career, getting the nod to pitch
WASHINGTON -- Although National League manager Dave Roberts briefly considered some of his other options, deciding the starting pitcher for 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a simple decision.
Max Scherzer will start the game for the second consecutive year and third in his career, getting the nod to pitch in front of his home crowd and ballpark at Nationals Park. He will become the 12th pitcher to start an All-Star Game at his home ballpark and the first since Matt Harvey did so for the Mets in the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field in 2013 (a game Scherzer started for the American League). The game can be seen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::
"When Dave told me that I was -- that he was going to give me the nod, so many emotions when you know that you're pitching in your home park," Scherzer said. "This is such an honor for the All-Star Game to be here. In previous experiences of being in the All-Star Games, you know, seeing the hometown players and how the fans get behind the hometown players, it's always been a special moment just watching that from afar and being on the other side."
Scherzer will match up against Boston's Chris Sale, who is starting for the third consecutive season, in a rematch of last season's All-Star Game. Roberts said he debated whether New York's Jacob deGrom deserved the nod with his 1.68 ERA at the break, but in the end the decision came easy.
"I think that when you sort of take in everything, the location, the ballpark, this great city -- and for me, the tiebreaker was the ballpark," Roberts said. "I think that it's trying to make it bigger than all of us, and I think the game is about the fans. And obviously, his intensity, I'm looking forward to it, and Jacob will pitch right behind him."
Scherzer has won the past two NL Cy Young Awards, but yet he earns this honor because his first half has somehow been even better. In 20 starts, he finished with a 2.41 ERA while his 182 strikeouts, 134 2/3 innings and 0.90 WHIP pace the Senior Circuit.
It makes him perhaps the front-runner to win the NL Cy Young Award for a third consecutive season, which would make him the third pitcher to do so joining Greg Maddux (1992-95) and Randy Johnson (1999-2002).
"One of the best in baseball," Bryce Harper said. "Every fifth day, he's intense. He's a bulldog out there. He's what you want as a number one starter each and every night. I'm looking forward to seeing him on the bump tomorrow. I know he's probably fired up as all get out."
Last summer, Scherzer set the tone to start the All-Star Game by working a scoreless first inning and punching out Aaron Judge and George Springer. He also tossed a clean inning in 2013, punctuated by a strikeout of Joey Votto to end the inning.
Still, there are few players who get as pumped as Scherzer for the All-Star Game experience and for the chance to compete on this stage against the best of his peers.
"It's not even close. Honestly, it's probably the closest thing you get to the post-season in terms of like the atmosphere and the intensity and everything," Scherzer said. "A lot of times, I've always looked at pitching in the All-Star Game as a prelude to how you pitch in the postseason, sometimes how you might have to pitch on two days' rest out of the pen, only throw one inning and then you have to go face the best hitters. That's what you do in the All-Star Game.
"I've always loved pitching in these events. You can take something from it because you can use it later in the year."
While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., 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 of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.