Hardcore Diamond Talk: NL Rookie Pitcher Gets All-Star Snub
By Andy Roth
Where Politically Correct Opinions Get Rejected
New York, NY (Sports Network) - For those of you still wrapped up in Strasburg- mania, I have to regretfully inform you that he's not the pitcher referred to in the above headline. As impressive as the Nationals' rookie has been, and as much as I love his stuff, you just can't make the All-Star game with seven starts under your belt.
The pitcher who got the snub and has fallen under the national radar for most of the season happens to pitch in the same city where Strasburg made his name in college - San Diego. The Padres' surprising run to the top of the National League West has been helped in great part by the right arm of twenty- two year old Mat Latos. His mid-90's fastball, which explodes through the zone to complement a plus curveball and slider, has made him awfully tough to hit. After struggling in April, Latos has been nothing less than dominant, putting up a 1.44 ERA over his last thirteen starts.
|Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg is just 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 7 major league starts.|
When you compare his numbers to Tim Lincecum and Yovani Gallardo, two of the pitchers who were named to the National League squad, it's clear that Latos deserved the nod.
There's no doubt that Lincecum, with his back-to-back Cy Young awards, is the more attractive selection for the mid-summer classic. But, based on the numbers Latos was obviously the more deserving choice.
AL EAST: The Yankees are primed to eventually pull away from the Rays and Red Sox. Boston has too many injuries and not enough production from the back end of its rotation. And speaking of starting pitching, Tampa is not getting the kind of production from James Shields, Matt Garza, and Wade Davis it needs to stay in contention. The Rays must pitch well to stay within striking distance of the Yankees, because their offense is nowhere near as good as New York's is.
AL CENTRAL: I think this will eventually turn into a two-team race between the Tigers and White Sox. Outside of Carl Pavano, the Twins don't have a reliable starter at this point. The White Sox suffered a tough blow by losing Jake Peavy for the season, but Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Mark Buehrle, and Freddy Garcia give Chicago the best rotation in the division. The Tigers' lineup, led by triple-crown threat Miguel Cabrera and rookie sensation Brennan Boesch, is a big reason why they trail the Sox by just a half game, but there are major question marks in the starting rotation after Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, and Max Scherzer.
AL WEST: The Rangers were clearly better than the Angels before the acquisition of Cliff Lee, and following his addition should run away the with the division.
NL EAST: The Braves' pitching staff sets Atlanta apart from the rest of the division. With quality throughout the starting rotation and Billy Wagner in the pen to close games, the Braves have a decided advantage over the Phillies and Mets. After Roy Halladay, Philadelphia doesn't have a reliable starter, while the Mets are banking on a lot of unproven arms and have to have concerns over Mike Pelfrey's recent struggles.
NL CENTRAL: The Reds have been one of the major surprises this season as they take a one game lead over the highly-favored Cardinals into the break. I think whatever team gets the better pitching at the back end of its rotation will end up on top.
NL WEST: It's a four-team race heading into the second half. The Padres are atop the division on the strength of great starting pitching and a very strong bullpen, headed by All-Star closer Heath Bell. If San Diego's pitching holds up, I have to give them the edge in the division, although it wouldn't hurt to add a quality bat to its anemic lineup. The Rockies should provide the stiffest competition, but it's hard to imagine Ubaldo Jimenez duplicating his first-half performance after the break.
Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.