Pitching on short rest in ASG not unheard of
Sunday starts leave decision in pitchers' hands
Last season, the Reds' Johnny Cueto was named to the National League All-Star team and went into the break with a 2.13 ERA that ranked second in the league. Yet the right-hander didn't pitch for the NL at Target Field after starting for Cincinnati only two days earlier.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement that MLB and the MLB Players Association struck in 2012 includes a rule stating that any pitcher who starts on the Sunday before the All-Star Game -- which always falls on a Tuesday -- has the option to participate in the All-Star Game or not. Cueto chose to attend as a spectator only, and he could find himself in the same position again this year.
As of Wednesday morning, Cueto led the five NL candidates for the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, which runs until 4 p.m. ET on Friday. But after tossing a two-hit shutout against the Nationals on Tuesday, he also is scheduled to start on Sunday at Miami. Cueto might not face the dilemma alone either. Washington's Max Scherzer, who was named to the NL squad on Monday and opposed Cueto on Tuesday, could pitch on Sunday at Baltimore, though Wednesday's rainout in Washington might push him back. The Nats have yet to announce their rotation plans for the weekend.
But if Cueto, Scherzer or another pitcher does elect to take the mound on one day's rest in the 2015 All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile, he will not do so without precedent. While nobody has taken on that challenge recently, seven have done so since 2000, with strong results.
The last time it happened, desperation was the main cause. That was back in 2008, when the contest at Yankee Stadium extended 15 innings, and all 63 available players eventually saw action. That included one pitcher on each side who had started for his team two days earlier.
First, the D-backs' Brandon Webb struck out two during a 1-2-3 bottom of the 14th. Then the Rays' Scott Kazmir worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless top of the 15th. He became the winning pitcher when the American League's Michael Young hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame.
Two years before, three pitchers pulled off the feat during a normal nine-inning contest at PNC Park. Toronto's Roy Halladay was the first man out of the bullpen for the AL and actually threw two innings, allowing a run on three hits. Meanwhile, Minnesota's Johan Santana and Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo both tossed a scoreless frame.
Before that, Oakland's Barry Zito retired the only batter he faced in the 2002 All-Star Game, while Arizona's Randy Johnson started the 2000 Midsummer Classic in Atlanta and notched a scoreless inning two days after throwing 121 pitches for the D-backs.
Combined, those seven pitchers allowed only one run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, with two walks and six strikeouts.