x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A shame Sunday pitchers have no chance to 'star'

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is just around the corner, and once again star pitchers who make a start the Sunday before the mid-summer classic will have to skip the affair.

Even with all the reforms and changes made to the annual All-Star Game, it could still use some tweaking and improving.

One is the confounding rule applied to selecting the pitching staff. Currently, baseball essentially disqualifies pitchers who start next Sunday, the final day of action before the game on July 12.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has decided that pitchers who are used that Sunday can't be expected to throw two days later, not with the way teams are notoriously protective of pitchers' health and well-being.

But most pitchers, over the course of the season, have their "side" day, a day of between-start throwing off a mound, either two or three days after their previous outing, in preparation for their next. Typically, pitchers throw 40-50 pitches in their side session, enough to stretch out their arms.

Few pitchers, except those chosen to start, throw more than one inning in the All-Star game and even the starting pitchers seldom go more than two. So, pitchers who start next Sunday would be capable of providing an inning of work.

MLB, of course, is petrified that it could see a repeat of the 2002 All-Star game, when the contest went extra innings and had to end in a tie because both teams ran out of pitchers.

But by sticking to the policy, MLB is excluding CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain, among others, all scheduled to start next Sunday. Without them, it is not much of an All-Star game.

sports@thenational.ae