After winning an MVP award, three Cy Youngs and five ERA titles, one of the generation’s best pitchers will claim a title that has somehow eluded him: All-Star Game starter. Clayton Kershaw is starting the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium, a glorious and appropriate honor for the avatar of the recent Dodgers.
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, this year’s NL All-Star skipper, announced the decision Monday morning. The Tampa Bay Rays' Shane McClanahan, a 25-year-old fireballer leading MLB with a 1.71 ERA, will start for the American League squad.
As if he needed to audition for the role, Kershaw carried a perfect game into the eighth inning on Friday in his last start before the break.
The start at his home park recalls Pedro Martinez’s legendary outing at Fenway Park in 1999, despite the fact that Kershaw is no longer quite at the peak of his powers.
It’s true that Kershaw is no longer the apex predator of his prime — but that’s mostly due to durability, not dominance when he’s on the mound. Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara and upstart Dodgers teammate Tony Gonsolin had the best first-half cases for the nod, but Kershaw has the narrative and — it must be said — a 2.13 ERA that is flying under the radar. His park-adjusted ERA+ is 194, meaning he’s been 94 percent better than league average. The knock is that he’s only thrown 71 2/3 innings where Alcantara, the league’s preeminent workhorse, has thrown a staggering 138 1/3 with an even better 1.76 ERA.
Alcantara, 26, will have time to continue building his star and earn the spot. Kershaw, at 34 years old, has certainly waited for his moment. And it’s not much of a sacrifice for the pure pitching possibilities, either. He remains capable of breathtaking mastery. Earlier this year, he tossed seven perfect innings in Minnesota before departing.
As for the competition on his own team, Kershaw bought Gonsolin a brand new suit for the occasion of his All-Star debut, so we’re guessing there are no hard feelings there.
"Now that it’s finally here and I get to start that game tomorrow, it means a lot," Kershaw said at a news conference announcing the decision Monday. "My family is excited.”
At a news conference Monday announcing the decision, Kershaw thanked Snitker for the nod and mentioned Alcantara, Gonsolin and the Braves' Max Fried as pitchers who also deserved the spot.
Snitker and AL manager Dusty Baker announced their full lineups for Tuesday's game.
2022 All-Star Game American League lineup
1. Shohei Ohtani, DH, Los Angeles Angels
2. Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
3. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox
4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
5. Giancarlo Stanton, LF, New York Yankees
6. Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins
7. Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
8. Andres Gimenez, 2B, Cleveland Guardians
9. Alejandro Kirk, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Shane McClanahan, P, Tampa Bay Rays
2022 All-Star Game National League lineup
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., RF, Atlanta Braves
2. Mookie Betts, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
5. Trea Turner, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs
7. William Contreras, DH, Atlanta Braves
8. Joc Pederson, LF, San Francisco Giants
9. Jeff McNeil, 2B, New York Mets
Clayton Kershaw, P, Los Angeles Dodgers