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Adam Wainwright named NL starting pitcher for All-Star Game over Clayton Kershaw

Joe Scarnici

For the second consecutive season the unquestioned best pitcher in baseball will not start the All-Star Game for the National League. But this year it's defensible.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, manager of the National League All-Star team, announced on Monday that his ace, Adam Wainwright, would start for the NL on Tuesday night in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game at Target Field in Minnesota. Wainwright was chosen over Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Felix Hernandez of the Mariners will start for the American League.

As great as Kershaw has been, with his no-hitter and eight straight wins, more strikeouts (126 to 115) and less than half as many walks (13 to 27) as Wainwright, it's remarkable that Kershaw is even in the conversation to start after missing five weeks on the disabled list.

Kershaw has been off the charts this season (1.60 FIP, 1.72 xFIP, 1.76 SIERA, 3.7 fWAR), outpacing Wainwright (2.52 FIP, 3.25 xFIP, 3.36 SIERA, 3.4 fWAR), but on a basic level Wainwright (1.83 ERA in 138 innings) has essentially been Kershaw (1.78 ERA in 96⅓ innings) with 42 more innings.

The only question really was whether Matheny would want his ace to pitch two innings instead of one after pitching seven innings in a win on Saturday. Kershaw last pitched Thursday, so he was perfectly lined up to start Tuesday on regular rest.

"That day works out for [Kershaw], and the way we've got him scheduled, he could go two [innings]," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said on Saturday.

Wainwright knew about the decision on Sunday, but didn't divulge anything, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Wainwright, who said he had been told of Matheny’s decision, said, "I came through (Saturday) fine. I think the plan is for me to pitch.

"I’ll tell you when the manager has decided and officially has made word."

Wainwright was smiling as he said all this, not necessarily indicative of anything. But there really is little reason for Matheny not to start Wainwright if he is going to pitch him, which he said he would do.

"Even to follow a great pitcher like Clayton Kershaw would be a great honor," said Wainwright, whom Kershaw calls "gramps."

Kershaw on Thursday said he was fine starting the All-Star Game or pitching in relief.

"Whatever Mike decides is fine with me. I'm just happy to get to be going," Kershaw said. "Just getting to go with three teammates, that's pretty cool."

The Dodgers have had 10 pitchers start an All-Star Game, including Don Drysdale five times (1959 twice, 1962, 1964, 1968), Whit Wyatt (1941), Ralph Branca (1948), Johnny Podres (1962), Sandy Koufax (1966), Andy Messersmith (1974), Don Sutton (1977), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Hideo Nomo (1995) and Brad Penny (2006).

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