For the first time since 1997 when legends like Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken, and Ken Griffey Jr. were still playing, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game returns to Cleveland on Tuesday night. The American League is a slight favorite on the MLB odds for the Midsummer Classic to win this game for the seventh year in a row.
2019 MLB All-Star Game Odds, Preview & Prediction
- When: Tuesday, 7:30 PM ET
- Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland
- TV: Fox
- Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
- 2019 MLB All-Star Gamr Odds: American League -115 (Total 8.5)
Verlander vs. Ryu On Mound
Per usual, the All-Star teams are managed by the managers of the previous year’s pennant winners. That’s Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox for the American League and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL.
Roberts chose his own guy in lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, the MLB ERA leader at 1.73, to start for the National League. Ryu (10-2) picked up the win last Thursday after holding the Padres scoreless over six innings. He struck out five while allowing three hits and three walks. Ryu bounced back from a rough outing at hitter-friendly Coors Field by shutting out the San Diego Padres to improve his record at Dodger Stadium to 7-0. The 32-year-old issued three free passes, matching as many as his last seven starts, but prevented them from causing any damage.
Ryu enters the All-Star break leading the majors with a 1.73 ERA and 9.9 strikeout-to-walk rate in 109 innings across 17 starts. His 0.91 WHIP is second. His 2.89 FIP is fourth. Ryu, who missed the entire 2015 season due to injury and pitched just one game in 2016, is the first South Korean-born pitcher to start the ASG.
Cora, meanwhile, has chosen Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros. Verlander (10-4, 2.98) took the loss Friday as the Astros were downed 5-4 by the Angels, allowing four runs on seven hits — including three home runs — and a walk over seven innings while striking out six. The 36-year-old is suddenly having major problems keeping the ball in the park. Verlander has been tagged for multiple homers in four of his last five starts, posting a 4.91 ERA over that stretch despite a strong 43:8 K:BB through 33 innings.
This will be Verlander’s second career All-Star Game start and his first as a member of the Astros. Prior to this year, four other Astros hurlers have started in the All-Star Game: RHP J.R. Richard (1980); RHP Mike Scott (1987); RHP Roger Clemens (2004); LHP Dallas Keuchel (2015).
Verlander, who also started for the AL in the 2012 All-Star Game, has been named to eight All-Star teams in his career (2007, 2009-13, 2018-19), becoming one of just 20 pitchers (19 Hall of Famers) to earn that distinction. In 2019, he has once again been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, posting a 10-4 record in 19 starts with a 2.98 ERA. His current 0.81 WHIP is the best in the majors and would be one of the lowest in history for a starting pitcher. He also has an ML-best .168 opponents batting average, allowing just 76 hits in 126.2 innings pitched.
Cora was an assistant on the Houston bench in 2017 when the team acquired Verlander in August and watched him go 9-1 the rest of the regular season and playoffs as the Astros won it all.
Neither starting pitcher is likely to go more than two innings. Because the past two All-Star Games have gone to extra innings and MLB doesn’t want these games going on forever and teams running out of pitchers like in 2002, there’s a new rule for extra innings. In both the top and bottom of all extra innings, the team at-bat will begin with a runner on second base. They play extras like that in the minor leagues.
NL Starting Lineup
- 1 Christian Yelich, LF, Brewers
- 2 Javier Baez, SS, Cubs
- 3 Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
- 4 Cody Bellinger, RF, Dodgers
- 5 Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
- 6 Josh Bell, DH, Pirates
- 7 Willson Contreras, C, Cubs
- 8 Ketel Marte, 2B, Diamondbacks
- 9 Ronald Acuna Jr., CF, Braves
The National League’s starting lineup is the youngest in All-Star Game history, led by 21-year-old Atlanta Braves outfielder Acuña Jr. Yelich leads the majors with 31 homers and is on track to win a second straight NL MVP Award. He was originally set to compete in Monday’s Home Run Derby but pulled out with a back injury that’s obviously not serious enough to keep him from playing in this game.
Bell, the Pittsburgh Pirates slugger in the midst of a breakout season, ends up getting the extra National League starting spot at DH after losing a close vote to Freeman at first base. The Dodgers’ five players in Cleveland will represent the second most for one team, trailing just Houston’s six All-Stars. In addition to Ryu and Bellinger, L.A. has Max Muncy and pitchers Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Muncy was an injury replacement for Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon. Bellinger leads the National League with a .437 on-base percentage and his 30 homers are a franchise record before the All-Star break.
One big name missing from the NL lineup: Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper. He had a good first half, hitting .253/.370/.470 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs. But it wasn’t a great first half, and for the first time since 2014, the fans did not vote him in as a starter. The players didn’t vote him in as a reserve, and the league selected J.T. Realmuto as the Philadelphia Phillies’ representative. The other big free-agent signing this past offseason was Manny Machado to the Padres and he didn’t make it, either.
AL Starting Lineup
- 1 George Springer, RF, Astros
- 2 DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Yankees
- 3 Mike Trout, CF, Angels
- 4 Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians
- 5 J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox
- 6 Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
- 7 Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
- 8 Michael Brantley, LF, Astros
- 9 Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins
With the game being played in Cleveland, the American League is the home side and bats last. Trout is one of five players in league history to win two All-Star Game MVP Awards – no one has won three of them. Trout is also the only one to win it in back-to-back years, doing so in 2014-15. Trout is again the favorite to win the MVP.
The Astros lead all teams with six All-Stars and four of them starting if you count Verlander. Springer was the World Series MVP two years ago. Bregman was the MVP of the All-Star Game in 2018 as the American League won it for a sixth straight year to take a 44-43-2 all-time lead.
The lone Boston player who is Cora’s starting nine is Martinez. He was not voted in as a starter but replaced Rangers DH Hunter Pence when the 36-year-old bowed out of the Midsummer Classic with a groin injury.
Every team is supposed to have one All-Star, but the Toronto Blue Jays don’t. Pitcher Marcus Stroman was originally named to the team but pulled out due to injury and replaced by NY Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Stroman, mentioned in trade speculation, was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday due to a strained left pectoral muscle.