- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
- 0 Shares
No matter what you think about Derek Jeter being elected to start in the All-Star Game, I think we can all agree that he certainly should not be the leadoff batter for the American League.
Somehow, with a lineup of the AL's best hitters at his disposal, Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to have his worst batter lead off , simply inexcusable no matter what Jeter has meant to the game.
The rest of the lineup makes sense, which means Farrell should have moved Mike Trout to leadoff, Robinson Cano to second and so on and let Jeter bat ninth. The game is -- or, in theory, should be -- about trying to win, not about giving respect to Derek Jeter.
Mike Matheny's National League lineup doesn't have any issues, and I particularly like the decision to use Giancarlo Stanton as the designated hitter even though the NL reserve outfielders aren't the strongest group.
You can't really argue either starting pitcher selection, Felix Hernandez in the AL and Adam Wainwright in the NL. Certainly Clayton Kershaw warranted the starting nod as well, but you can't go wrong with Wainwright and his 12-4 record and sub 2.00 ERA. He's been every bit as dominant as Kershaw so far this season.
Where things get interesting is how each manager will use his reserves. The AL pitching staff has been thinned a bit by the injury to Masahiro Tanaka, and David Price being unavailable to pitch after starting on Sunday. If I were Farrell, I would pitch Hernandez for two innings followed by Chris Sale for two more, giving Farrell lots of flexibility over the final five innings to match up his remaining starters and relievers as needed.
Hitting Jeter leadoff hurts in another regard since the two backup shortstops, Alexei Ramirez and Erick Aybar, are both mediocre hitters. Of course, Farrell could simply use a stronger bench bat to pinch hit for Jeter -- like Brandon Moss -- especially if there are runners on base, but we rarely see those moves in All-Star Games any more. Usually we just see straight position-for-position changes.
Matheny's staff has also been weakened by the unavailability of Madison Bumgarner and Julio Teheran, both of whom started Sunday, and the injury to Jordan Zimmermann. That means World Series home-field advantage has a greater likelihood of being determined by "stars" like Pat Neshek, Tony Watson and Tyler Clippard.
I'd also argue the NL bench isn't quite as strong, so Matheny may choose to play his regulars an extra inning or two compared to Farrell. There's no reason to pull Andrew McCutchen and Yasiel Puig after four or five innings just to get Charlie Blackmon and Josh Harrison into the game.