Scherzer won't pitch in All-Star Game
Nationals ace will attend Midsummer Classic, but won't risk throwing on short rest
BALTIMORE -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer will not display his talent on one of baseball's grandest stages. Although he was voted in by the players, Scherzer will not pitch in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile on Tuesday. He will, however, attend.
Manager Matt Williams reiterated that he wants to win ballgames, and Scherzer pitched the final game of the first half against the Orioles on Sunday, but he will not pitch in the Midsummer Classic.
"He is going to go and enjoy the process," Williams said. "He will be part of it, but he'll be unavailable."
Said Scherzer, "It's really a team decision. They just want me to throw on Sunday. By doing that, I'm not going to pitch at the All-Star Game. It is what it is. I'm trying to help the team out as much as I can."
Scherzer said that he is aware of the 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement clause that gives him the option to pitch in the All-Star Game even if he starts on Sunday. But the ace said he will waive that right, not wanting to risk pitching on short rest.
"I get it. They are protecting my arm. It's smart," Scherzer said. " ... Would it be great to pitch in the game and pitch for the National League? Yes. At the same time, you don't want to risk injury. It is an honor to pitch in the All-Star Game, but you don't want to risk injury for your team."
According to the CBA: Any starting pitcher elected or selected to the All-Star team who makes a start on the Sunday immediately preceding the All-Star Game ("Sunday Pitcher") shall have the option to participate or not participate in the All-Star Game. If such starting pitcher elects to participate in the All-Star Game, he will not be permitted to pitch for more than one inning, and he may also inform his manager that he should be removed from the game if he reaches a certain pitch count (irrespective of whether he has completed one inning), provided such pitch count is reasonable.
The agreement goes on to say that: If a Sunday Pitcher who was originally named to the team elects not to participate in the All-Star Game, he will be replaced on the roster but treated in the same manner as other All-Stars who are excused from participation, and he will be encouraged to attend and be announced at the All-Star Game.
Scherzer has been the ace of the pitching staff during the first half of the season, going 9-7 with a 2.12 ERA and 143 strikeouts. After completing one game in his first seven seasons, Scherzer has completed three in his last six starts.
Scherzer was virtually unhittable during the week ending June 21. In two starts, Scherzer allowed one hit and pitched 18 shutout innings. On June 20, he was unreal, throwing the second no-hitter in Nationals history in a 6-0 win over the Pirates. He was a strike away from a perfect game before he hit Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata with a pitch.
"He started on Opening Day for us. He has certainly been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the first half," Williams said. "He has been very important for us, and he will continue to be -- even beyond tomorrow.
"Looking at the second half, it's important for us to have him out there, keeping in mind that his load has been pretty heavy. All the complete games and the no-hitter is a little different load than he has had previously. We have to keep that in mind going forward."
With Scherzer out of the All-Star Game, Williams has lobbied for some other members of the Nationals to make the team. Williams did not say who he had in mind, but closer Drew Storen is worthy. He is having the best year of his career, saving 26 games with a 1.97 ERA.
Third baseman Yunel Escobar is also having the best year of his career, hitting .317 with four home runs and 27 RBIs.
According to Williams, the final decision will be made Sunday afternoon by National League manager and Giants skipper Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti.
"We can lobby all we want, but they'll have tomorrow afternoon to make the final spots, so we'll see," Williams said.
With Scherzer pitching on Sunday, it means right-hander Doug Fister will come out of the bullpen as a long reliever during the final two games before the All-Star break.