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Epic 1st half nets Scherzer NL's starting nod

MLB.com

MIAMI -- Max Scherzer has been through this all before and yet he still gets excited as if this was his first time. This will be his fifth consecutive All-Star appearance, and he has started once before. But a wide smile still came over his face when he was officially named starter for the National League in the 2017 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

"It's unbelievable to get the nod," Scherzer said. "This is such an incredible accomplishment. When you walk in this clubhouse and you're with all the All Stars, you're tickled to be in that clubhouse with that recognition. When you have a manager say, "We're going to give you the ball,' it's icing on the cake.

MIAMI -- Max Scherzer has been through this all before and yet he still gets excited as if this was his first time. This will be his fifth consecutive All-Star appearance, and he has started once before. But a wide smile still came over his face when he was officially named starter for the National League in the 2017 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

"It's unbelievable to get the nod," Scherzer said. "This is such an incredible accomplishment. When you walk in this clubhouse and you're with all the All Stars, you're tickled to be in that clubhouse with that recognition. When you have a manager say, "We're going to give you the ball,' it's icing on the cake.

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"For me to have the opportunity to go out there and represent the National League, this is stuff you never forget. And when you get the opportunity -- I'm kicking at the dirt to be able to go out there and pitch."

This will be the second career start in a Midsummer Classic for Scherzer, who tossed a scoreless 12-pitch first inning for the American League in 2013, when he was a member of the Tigers. Scherzer will become just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to start for both the AL and NL. Red Sox ace lefty Chris Sale will start for the AL.

The decision to name Scherzer the starter was hardly a surprise considering he has been perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the NL through this season's first half. His follow-up to winning the NL Cy Young Award last year has been to lead the NL in virtually every pitching category. His 2.10 ERA and 0.779 WHIP lead the Majors, while his 173 strikeouts top the NL.

"He's a bulldog out there on the mound, the way he competes," Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said. "He's a guy you want to play against. He's the best of the best, and he's been for so many years now. It's going to be fun to face him in that first inning." 

Video: Max Scherzer joins MLB Tonight to talk about the ASG

And when Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw withdrew from the game after pitching Sunday afternoon, it made the path for Scherzer seemingly even more clear, although Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he would have chosen Scherzer anyway.

"I have a ton of respect for Mr. Kershaw," Maddon said. "But if you just broke down the numbers, I am being honest, I had already chosen Max based on what I had just read numerically. It's hard to argue."

Scherzer will have a few familiar faces behind him, as joins three Nationals position players in the starting lineup. He will be able to look over his left shoulder and see Ryan Zimmerman at first base, Daniel Murphy at second and Bryce Harper in right field. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg is the Nats' fifth All-Star.

Scherzer starts have become must-watch TV at Nationals Park these days. Whether it's the ability to strike out 20 batters in one game, or throw another no-hitter -- he already has two and almost routinely flirts with another -- there always seems to be a chance at something historic.

Video: Scherzer on trying to prevent home runs

"I feel like I'm almost too close to it to appreciate how good he's been," Murphy said. "I'm heading in and I'll be like, 'Oh, Max is going today, we got a really good chance to win this ballgame.' Then it's like the sixth inning or seventh inning and, 'Oh, they've got one hit.' But because were competing with him, I feel like it's I'm almost too close.

"I think maybe I'll look at my son in 15 years [and tell him], 'That was some special stuff that we got to experience, man.'"

On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed.

ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer