Stephen Strasburg actually gave up three earned runs and lost to the Braves last night, 5-0. I'm hoping this will mute the call for Strasburg to be named to the National League All-Star team.
Look, I'm a huge fan of the guy. I was thrilled to be on hand for his final Triple-A start in Buffalo. I believed his minor-league numbers would translate at the big-league level. You can't fake a 99 mph fastball, nasty curve and one of the best changeups ever by a kid that age. Strasburg will be a star for years to come and will play in many All-Star games if he stays healthy.
But there's no reason to put him in the game after he's pitched at the Major League level for one month. There is no precedent. Strasburg will have started six games when the NL team is announced on July 4. That's simply not enough to be on an All-Star team. I understand some of the reasons why people are pushing for him: He is a sensation. It will drive ratings. The fans want to see him.
There are more compelling reasons not to pick him, though. This has been an amazing year for pitching, especially in the NL. There are 13 NL starters with ERAs under 3.00. There are an unusual number of pitchers who have allowed far fewer hits than innings pitched. There are numerous starters with 100 innings and All-Star worthy stats. It'll be hard enough to distinguish among them as it is.
I know it's not all about stats with Strasburg. It's about the spectacle and the sight of a rare pitching prodigy. But he's 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts. It doesn't approach the record of many of the pitchers who have been performing at a high level all season. Mike Pelfrey of the Mets is 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA. Mat Latos, a San Diego rookie, is 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA. He's allowing 6.5 hits per nine innings -- fewer than Strasburg, who is allowing 7.1 hits per nine. Tim Hudson, who beat Strasburg on Monday night, is also allowing 7.1 hits every nine innings. So is Yovani Gallardo. Adam Wainwright is even better than that.
One of the arguments being made for Strasburg is that he would give the NL a better chance to win. It's a stretch to suggest he would be more effective in one inning than a bunch of other pitchers who are having terrific years, including relievers. Tyler Clippard, his Washington teammate, has been indispensable to the Nationals this year. Why not put him on the All-Stars? He might never get another chance. The same goes for Arthur Rhodes, who has a 0.28 ERA for the Reds out of the bullpen at age 40.
I'll bet Strasburg is uneasy about the issue. He's a quiet kid who doesn't care for all the media attention he's getting. You think he wants to create a spectacle at an event that's intended to honor ALL the great players in the sport? If he's in the game, it will create resentment among a lot of players who feel a more deserving veteran missed a chance to be in the game.
It's not worth it. Strasburg's day will come. But not this year. Let him take the three days off at All-Star time for a well-deserved rest. I'm sure he can use it.
What do you think? Should Strasburg be on the NL All-Star roster?