After Thursday afternoon’s 6-5 loss to the Brewers, Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman told reporters that he will not pitch in the All-Star Game, which is this coming Tuesday (July 11). He isn’t injured and instead said he just wants the rest (via Jesse Rogers).
The news here is most notable because Stroman was one of the best choices for the NL squad to start the game, as noted by.
Stroman gave up four runs on four hits in five innings of work Thursday, though all the damage came in the fifth inning after a missed strike call helped leave the door open. The big blow was a three-run shot by Christian Yelich.
In an MLB-high 19 starts this season, Stroman is 9-6 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 112 2/3 innings. This marks the fourth time in his career that Stroman has topped 100 innings before the All-Star break. It’s the first time he’s gotten there since 2019 and his second-highest total (he worked 116 innings before the break in 2016). Stroman also mentioned to reporters after that game that he took part in the World Baseball Classic in March. He has had a big workload in 2023, that’s for sure.
In light of that, taking the rest over throwing in the game makes sense, though it’s notable that this is only Stroman’s second time as an All-Star and he’s never pitched in the game itself.
As for who could start the All-Star Game for the NL, it seems like the path is clear for one of Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen, Braves strikeout artist Spencer Strider or Stroman’s teammate Justin Steele.
As of Thursday afternoon:
- Gallen is 10-3 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He’s struck out 120 against 23 walks in 111 1/3 innings. The D-Backs are in first place in the NL West, too. Gallen will start Friday, meaning he’d get three days of rest before the very short outing an All-Star start would require.
- Strider is 10-2 with a 3.66 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and leads the majors with 155 strikeouts. He has a 30(!) strikeout lead in the NL. The Braves are far and away the best team in baseball right now. Strider’s teammate, Bryce Elder, would’ve had a great case to start as well, but he’s slated to start on Sunday and that would make him ineligible. Strider will start Saturday and he’s had a big workload, so it’s always possible the Braves don’t want him to pitch Tuesday. Then again, it would likely only be for one or two innings and it would be a side session day anyway.
- Steele is 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 81 strikeouts against 19 walks in 91 1/3 innings. He isn’t scheduled for another start before the break after having gone on Wednesday, so he’d be good to go for two innings. Unsurprisingly, Stroman endorsed his teammate. “I don’t think it should be a debate. I think he’s the clear cut starter for the NL,” he said Thursday (via Rogers).
The choice will be made by Phillies manager Rob Thomson, since he is the NL manager by virtue of the Phillies taking the pennant last October.