Phillies sending club-record 7 players to ASG

Wheeler, Suárez, Hoffman and Strahm join starters Harper, Turner and Bohm

July 7th, 2024

ATLANTA -- This Phillies season could be something special.

It could be the most special -- maybe ever -- if they win the World Series in the fall. The Phils are on pace to win a franchise-record 105 games, and Sunday they learned they will have a franchise-record seven players on the National League All-Star team for the 2024 All-Star Game in Arlington.

That's seven players from a 26-man roster.

“It could be more than that,” ace Zack Wheeler said. “It shows how well we’ve been playing as a group. Everybody on the roster is a part of every game and winning.”

Major League Baseball announced on Sunday that Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Jeff Hoffman and Matt Strahm will join infielders Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Alec Bohm, who were previously elected starters.

The Phillies had never had more than five All-Stars in a season previously. This is the first time they have had two All-Star relievers in the same year.

“Still disbelief,” Strahm said. “It hasn’t set in.”

Phillies manager Rob Thomson called a team meeting before Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Braves to announce Wheeler, Suárez, Hoffman and Strahm made the squad. Wheeler and Suárez probably knew they were going to make the team.

Hoffman and Strahm hoped they would, but they were not sure.

“I was shaking a lot,” Hoffman said. “It took me a while to calm down. I called my wife. Everybody is really happy -- and happy to cancel our All-Star [break] plans, and get to hang out and play baseball instead.”

Hoffman and his family had planned to spend the break at the Jersey Shore.

Texas sounds pretty cool instead.

Suárez and Wheeler were no-brainers. They have been two of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Suárez is 10-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 2.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs. It is his first All-Star selection. Wheeler is 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA and 2.8 WAR. It is his second All-Star selection.

Suárez could pitch an inning next week in Texas. Wheeler will not because he's pitching next Sunday against the A’s at Citizens Bank Park. He has already been marked inactive for the All-Star Game.

Does Suárez want to pitch if given the opportunity?

“One hundred percent,” Suárez said via team interpreter Diego D'Aniello. “If I’m going, I want to pitch. It’s my first All-Star Game. I want to have that feeling of my first All-Star appearance.”

Especially because his wife and two children will be there. They recently came to the United States for the first time.

“It was just all a part of my plan,” Suárez said, smiling. “They came this year because they knew I was going to make the All-Star team. I’m just really happy to have them here for my first All-Star selection.”

Both Strahm and Hoffman were as deserving as Suárez and Wheeler, but relievers are often selected based on their number of saves.

Hoffman has only eight. Strahm has none.

But both have been among the most dominant relievers in the Majors. Hoffman is 3-1 with a 1.21 ERA, striking out 47 and walking eight in 37 1/3 innings. Strahm is 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA, 45 strikeouts and four walks in 34 innings.

Hoffman (1.5) and Strahm (1.4) are second and third, respectively, among MLB relievers in WAR.

“Just the history of All-Stars, I guess, I wasn’t expecting much,” Strahm said. “I was hoping Jeff would get the nod, obviously, with what he’s done and his saves. Saves usually look better than the ‘H’ [for holds]. He’s done an unbelievable job with how he’s turned his career around. He’s so deserving of it.

“But the way the game is going, I think guys are starting to see that you win ballgames not only in the ninth inning. It’s good to see. It’s good for the game.”

What makes the selection of Hoffman and Strahm even cooler is that they are best friends. They play catch together every day.

“It’ll be nice not to have that conversation, like, 'Hey, anybody want to play catch?'” Hoffman said. “I’ve got my guy. I’ll probably be the only one with my actual catch partner there. It was awesome. They announced Strahmy's name first, and I think that took more of a weight off my shoulders than hearing my own name called. I know the work, time and effort that he’s put in.”

The Phillies previously had five All-Star selections six times: 2011 (Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino); 2009 (Ryan Howard, Raul Ibañez, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Victorino); 1995 (Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, Tyler Green, Mickey Morandini and Heathcliff Slocumb); 1981 (Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Dick Ruthven, Mike Schmidt and Manny Trillo); 1979 (Bob Boone, Larry Bowa, Carlton, Rose and Schmidt); and 1976 (Dave Cash, Greg Luzinski, Boone, Bowa and Schmidt).