With the 92nd Midsummer Classic taking place at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw will become the 13th pitcher to start an All-Star Game at his home park and the first since Max Scherzer in 2018, when the game was held at Nationals Park. Six pitchers in the expansion era (since 1961) have done it previously: Scherzer, Matt Harvey in 2013 at Citi Field, Roger Clemens in 2004 at Minute Maid Park, Esteban Loaiza in 2003 at U.S. Cellular Field, Pedro Martinez in 1999 at Fenway Park and Steve Rogers in 1982 at Stade Olympique in Montreal.
“It’s a tough decision,” said Braves skipper Brian Snitker, who will manage the NL squad on Tuesday. “There are very many guys in the National League that are having great years. I think because we are here in Los Angeles, the home of the Dodgers, you toss this around, and Clayton’s name just kept coming to the forefront to start this game. I think his reputation, what he’s meant to the game of baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think it’s just perfect that he start this game for us."
Kershaw is a nine-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner, but this will be his first time starting an All-Star Game.
Over 12 starts this season, the 34-year-old has posted a 2.13 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 12 walks in 71 2/3 innings. The veteran finished the first half on a high note, allowing just one earned run on 10 hits with 24 K’s and one walk in 22 2/3 innings over his past three starts.
“I think because it’s at Dodger Stadium, I think there was a little bit more of like a, ‘Man, I think it would be really cool to get to do and be a part of it,’” Kershaw said. “Just being around the guys in general is so fun at an All-Star Game. It’s really about that more than anything. This time for me specifically to be here at home and things like that, it meant a lot more this time, for sure.”
McClanahan, who is nine years younger than Kershaw, will become the second Rays pitcher to start an All-Star Game, joining David Price in 2010.
The 25-year-old left-hander has recorded a 1.71 ERA and 0.80 WHIP -- both tops in MLB -- with 147 strikeouts and 19 walks over 110 2/3 innings in 2022, his second year in MLB. McClanahan allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last 13 starts before the All-Star break, notching a 1.29 ERA in that span.
“I’m honored,” McClanahan said. “There are so many deserving guys in the AL who’ve had a heck of a year so far. To even be a consideration for this was truly just an honor for me. I’m very excited to take the ball and have [Astros manager] Dusty [Baker] see me pitch for the first time.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you I had never envisioned myself being on that mound competing against the best players in the world. For it to come true is truly an exciting opportunity for me.”
This will be the only the 10th All-Star Game featuring two left-handed starters and the first since 2000, when Arizona's Randy Johnson and Toronto's David Wells faced off at Turner Field.
Kershaw will have his work cut out for him from the get-go, as Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is due to hit leadoff for the AL. Ohtani opted not to pitch in the All-Star Game because he’s slated to start the Angels’ second-half opener on Friday, but he’ll be in the starting lineup at designated hitter for the second consecutive Midsummer Classic.
Ohtani, a left-handed hitter, is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in eight career plate appearances against Kershaw.
“Shohei is pretty incredible,” Kershaw said. “I just try to pitch, let alone try to hit every once in a while back in the day. What he’s able to do is incredible. It’s really great for the game of baseball. I think having somebody like that be able to excel at both of those the way he does is incredible. It’s fun to watch, too, as a fan of the game. I don’t know how I got him out. I guess I’ll try to get him out again tomorrow and see what happens.”