Perhaps it should come as no surprised that the guy who finished second in the 2013 World Series (i.e. – the loser) selected the second best pitcher in the National League to start the 2014 All-Star Game tomorrow night at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Granted, as the manager of the National League All-Star team it is Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s prerogative to pick whoever he wants to start the game for the NL, but if he would have taken the two or three seconds necessary to see who the best pitcher in the National League (and all of baseball for that matter) really is instead of ‘rewarding his guy’, it would be Clayton Kershaw on the mound in the bottom of the first inning tomorrow night and not Adam Wainwright.
It’s not the fact that Kershaw has won two Cy Young Awards in the last three years – compared to Wainwright’s none; or the fact that Kershaw has won the ERA title in each of the last three years - compared to Wainwright’s none; or the fact that Kershaw has a no-hitter and Wainwright does not, or even the fact that Kershaw currently has the best ERA in all of baseball; it is because Clayton Kershaw is simply the better pitcher of the two – period.
Heading into the All-Star Game Kershaw’s ERA is 1.78 compared to Wainwright’s 1.83. He also has 126 strikeouts compared to Wainwright’s 115. And while Wainwright’s record is 12-4 compared to Kershaw’s 11-2, Wainwright has started 19 games and pitched 138.0 innings compared to Kershaw’s 14 starts and 96.1 innings because of having to spend six weeks on the disabled list.
If Matheny used the MLB’s official statistics in his decision to select his own poster child over Kershaw, he is a much bigger fool than we realize. Because these MLB stats require that a pitcher must have a minimum of one inning pitched for every game that their team has played to be eligible, Kershaw falls exactly 0.2 innings shy. As noted, Kershaw has pitched 96.1 innings and because of their early season opening series in Australia (for the so-called “goodwill of the sport”) the Dodgers have already played 97 games, with the Cardinals (and every other team in the MLB except the Tampa Bay Rays) having played only 96 games (or fewer). In other words, Kershaw would have the requisite 96 innings pitched but for this “goodwill of the sport.”
Obviously this minimum innings requisite will fall by the wayside with Kershaw’s next start slated for Sunday, July 20 in (of all places) St Louis and it will never again be given a second thought, but as soon as Kershaw reaches what will then be a required 100 innings pitched mark, he will immediately and officially take over the ERA lead (which he already has) from Adam Wainwright.
When you add all of these things together, Matheny’s decision to go with Wainwright all boils down to one thing – favoritism; and that favoritism could very well cost the Dodgers home field advantage in the World Series.
Thanks a lot, Mike. Thanks a lot.