DENVER -- With a 2.66 ERA heading into the break, Nationals ace Max Scherzer was named the starting pitcher for the National League in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Coors Field, NL manager Dave Roberts announced Monday.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Scherzer said as he sat on the stage alongside American League starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani and managers Roberts (NL) and Kevin Cash (AL).
It will mark the fourth All-Star start of Scherzer’s career. Only five pitchers have started at least four All-Star Games on the mound, and all five are in the Hall of Fame: Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez and Robin Roberts are tied for the most with five, while Jim Palmer and Randy Johnson made four starts each. Scherzer has started twice previously for the NL (2017, ‘18), and once for the American League (‘13). He's appeared in five games overall, yielding one run over six innings, while striking out 10 and walking one.
“When you step into a room full of All-Stars and you get the ball, that’s a special feeling,” Scherzer said. “It’s really hard putting it into words. So for Dave to select me again and to give that honor to me with the quality of arms that are in the National League this year, I’m very blessed and very thankful for that opportunity.”
Roberts, who led the Dodgers to the World Series title in 2020, said he considered selecting Rockies right-hander Germán Márquez so he could start in front of the hometown fans in Denver, but he ultimately picked Scherzer partly as a nod to Nationals skipper Dave Martinez, who didn’t have the opportunity to manage the NL All-Star team last season. Martinez would have been in line to do so after the Nationals reached the Fall Classic and won it all in 2019, but last year’s All-Star Game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I felt that what [Scherzer has] done this year as far as performance, what he’s done for the game of baseball, his track record … and also because he’s a former World Series champion in ‘19, and last year, the Nationals' [coaching staff] didn’t get that opportunity,” Roberts said. “For Davey and his staff not to be able to have this experience that I’m so grateful for and my coaches, I just felt that is added on top of that. So on every level for me it was a no-brainer."
The 36-year-old wasn’t even on the NL roster until he was named as an injury/opt-out replacement on Friday, earning his eighth career All-Star selection.
Over 17 starts this season, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has recorded 134 strikeouts and 22 walks in 98 innings. Opponents have hit .185 against him.
Scherzer credited Washington’s staff for keeping him healthy and pitching at a high level into his mid-30s.
“I pride myself on [durability],” Scherzer said. “Being durable every single year and trying to make every single start. This is another testament to that. It’s hard to be selected [as an All-Star], much less selected consecutively. That’s where I’ve got to give a lot of thanks to all of our trainers and strength coaches that have worked with me through the years of putting me in the right positions to keep my body feeling as good as it does even still today so that I can go out there and compete and pitch at my best. So there’s a lot of other people that deserve credit for this as well."
Scherzer earned his first All-Star selection in 2013. At that time, some of his NL teammates were not even drafted yet. His presence is being felt by those who watched the three-time Cy Young Award winner as they rose in the ranks.
“I’m going to be in awe,” said 23-year-old Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers. “I’m literally just going to watch him dominate for an inning. Hopefully, I can get to meet him and pick his brain a little bit. … Just his overall mentality, how he goes about his business, certain grips he plays with and what his feeling is behind each pitch.”
This year, Scherzer joins teammates Kyle Schwarber, who's out with a hamstring injury, Juan Soto and Trea Turner on the NL All-Star squad.
“It’s just incredible,” Soto said. “It’s great to have one of the best starting the game.”