The Pittsburgh Pirates will be a little busy when the All-Star Game rosters are unveiled at 6:30 p.m. on FOX. The Bucs face the Chicago Cubs at 4:05 Eastern at Wrigley Field and will be hoping to wrap up a road series victory while their All-Star fates are announced to the world.
There are six legitimate Pirates candidates vying for spots on the National League squad, as Tim detailed Friday:
- Outfielder Andrew McCutchen (2nd in NL outfielder WAR, 4th in OBP)
- Third baseman Pedro Alvarez (1st in NL third base homers, 2nd in slugging)
- Catcher Russell Martin (3rd in NL catcher WAR, 4th in OPS)
- Starting pitcher Jeff Locke (2nd in NL ERA)
- Closer Jason Grilli (1st in NL reliever WAR and FIP, 2nd in strikeout rate)
- Setup reliever Mark Melancon (1st in NL reliever ERA, 2nd in reliever WAR and FIP)
You could also add left fielder Starling Marte if the players or NL manager Bruce Bochy are impressed by his defense. Anything more than two or three Pirates All-Stars (Grilli is the only sure thing) might be too much to hope for, but seeing any of those six players on the squad would not be shocking. Plus we could see one of the Pirates’ snubs make the Final Vote (where he will lose to Yasiel Puig) or make it to New York City as an injury replacement.
Clint Hurdle managed the NL squad in 2008, part of the current era of the winning league earning home field advantage in the World Series.
“When you’re given the responsibility of managing the game, with what’s at stake now, there’s no doubt your focus is to win the game, not to make people happy or to be cool or trendy or any of that.” Hurdle said. “The decisions I made were all based on putting the best team I could together to win the game.”
With that mindset, Hurdle made a case for his third baseman Alvarez to make the team behind likely voted-in starter David Wright of the Mets.
“You’d like to have a guy on the bench that can change the direction of the game with one swing of the bat,” Hurdle said. “He would be as opportunistic, as important to have as anybody.”
Perhaps Alvarez falls into the same category as the Dodgers’ Puig, though, a player that could help the team and has swung a hot bat for the last month but perhaps does not have other accomplishments on his résumé.
“Generally, guys that go to the All-Star Game are guys that have a great first half, not a great three weeks,” Bochy said about Puig a couple weeks ago before softening his stance. Expect Bochy to lean heavily on rewarding players who have had a successful first half, not necessarily long-term accomplishments.
Fans and the players will find out in a matter of hours. Melancon, Alvarez, Locke, Grilli and Marte will wait to see if they are named “All-Star” for the first time.