The All-Star Game is only two days away, and with it comes the usual fanfare regarding omissions, snubs, and the like. Of course, there’s always a bit of bad news on the injury front as well. Also, just how good has A.J. Burnett been this season?
All-Star Game Final Rosters
Is it any surprise that when left to a vote—especially after all the hoopla surrounding fan voting this year—two players who play their home games in the state of Missouri made the final cut? It shouldn’t be, but for formalities sake, pitcher Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals along with third baseman Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals were voted into MLB’s mid-summer classic Friday afternoon.
Martinez—2.52 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 25.6 strikeout percentage—beat out the likes of Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati), Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado), and Jeurys Familia (New York Mets) while Moustakas—.294/.350/.426—topped Yoenis Cespedes (Detroit), Xander Bogaerts (Boston), Brett Gardner (New York Yankees), and Brian Dozier (Minnesota).
More on those last two in a moment. In the meantime, finalized rosters—excluding late additions from injuries this weekend—can be found here.
Royals Will Miss Alex Gordon
While Moustakas is entering the All-Star fray, another Royals player will be forced to take leave, and that’s because Alex Gordon suffered a “grade-two-plus” groin strain during Wednesday’s win over Tampa Bay. Gordon, who was slashing .279/.394/.457 with 11 home runs before the injury, will prove to be one of the club’s bigger losses on the field.
KC will likely go with the speedy Jarrod Dyson to replace him, while Yankees outfielder and final vote castaway Brett Gardner will be filling in for him in the All-Star game. Gardner is hitting .300/.377/.486 with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases on the season.
Grilli’s Season Ends Abruptly
Baseball can be a very cruel game. This was on full display Sunday afternoon as the Atlanta Braves took on the Colorado Rockies. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Braves closer Jason Grilli ran to first base—just like he would any other day—to cover for Chris Johnson who was fielding a groundball. The results this time were anything but normal as Grilli crumpled to the ground on his way to the bag.
Grilli, 38, ruptured his left Achilles and will miss the remainder of the season. He was sporting a 2.94 ERA, 2.06 FIP, had a 12.0 strikeout per nine rate, and accumulated 24 saves before suffering the injury. At his age, it’s going to be interesting to see whether or not he calls it a career after this. That said, this isn’t how any athlete envisions going out. Here’s to a speedy and problem-free recovery.
Dozier, Twins Continue to Surprise
If not for the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins might be the most talked about team in the American League. They’re currently second place in the AL Central and wild card race after four consecutive seasons of 70 wins or fewer. Minnesota added to their incredible story so far on Friday against the Tigers with a seven-run rally in the ninth inning, ultimately winning 8-6 on Dozier’s walk-off home run.
Speaking of the Twins second baseman—who is batting .259/.332/.517 with 19 home runs and a league-leading 67 runs scored—several thought he’d be a lock for the ASG. A strong push on the last day of the final vote wasn’t enough to top Moustakas, but it looks like the baseball gods smiled upon him anyway. Dozier will be replacing Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who’ll be inactive during the break as he receives treatment on his shoulder.
His first trip to the summer showdown will undoubtedly be something to savor, but soon enough Dozier and company will be back to being all business as they work towards their first playoff appearance since 2010.
Perhaps he Should Have Never Left Pittsburgh
A.J. Burnett had a couple really strong seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and 2013, averaging a 3.41 ERA, 3.16 FIP, and 195 strikeouts. This was a far cry from his three years spent with the New York Yankees, where he averaged totals of 4.82 and 4.64, despite striking out 171 batters per year.
But at age 37 with his career winding down, Burnett wanted to do what was easiest for his family. He accepted a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014, but got roughed up to the tune of a 4.59 ERA with a 4.14 FIP. He did strike out 190 batters, but led the league in walks (96) and earned runs (109). He stayed healthy and started all 34 games, but wasn’t afforded much help from his teammates en route to an 8-18 record.
He re-signed with the Pirates this past offseason, and now finds himself in the middle of a career year. Burnett’s ERA currently stands at 2.11. Currently the only player with a lower mark is Zack Greinke (1.39). His FIP is 2.76, he’s struck out 100 batters thus far (20.5 percent), and holds an incredibly low HR/9 rate of 0.2.
If that weren’t enough, he’s also a Batman super fan who will be sporting custom-made Batman cleatswhen he takes the field Tuesday night. Does that make him a hero, or shall he simply remain a Cy Young favorite? Okay, fine; it can be the latter.
Enjoy the break, folks.