It's time for the 83rd MLB All Star Game. With home field advantage hanging in the balance, both teams should have a lot of incentive to put on a good show. First pitch is set for 7:30 pm ET on Tuesday and will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
MLB betting odds have the American League as a -124 favorite and the total for the game is 8.5.
Projected starting pitching
R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.40) has been the best pitcher in baseball and should get the nod from NL manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa has already said that Buster Posey will start behind the plate, and knuckleballers are difficult to handle. Dickey deserves it and should at least go 2 to 3 innings.
Update: Main Cain has been named the starting pitcher as we went to press.
For the American League, Justin Verlander (9-5, 2.58) seems like the obvious choice. Despite the Tigers being a disappointing team, Verlander has pitched into the 6th inning in 60 consecutive starts.
Both teams have quite capable pitchers on their squad.
Besides Dickey, the NL staff includes Gio Gonzalez, Matt Cain, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, and Lance Lynn.
The AL staff consists of "King" Felix Hernandez, Matt Harrison, David Price, Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, Jered Weaver, and Justin Verlander.
All Star Observation
The National League is known for its pitching and the American for its hitting, so there's no surprise with the players selected for the game.
Where pitching is concerned, the National League gets the decisive edge. The key for them is the catcher's ability to contain Dickey's knuckleball, because the pitch can dance. Justin Verlander isn't one to buckle under pressure, so this game will come down to the later innings.
Both bullpens have shutdown closers in Joe Nathan for the AL and Jonathan Papelbon for the NL.
Incentive to get home field
A big part of this to me is the fact that the Texas Rangers have seven players in the All Star Game and the Yankees have Jeter, Cano and Granderson starting for the American League. Aside from pitching, the Yankees and Rangers account for 6 of 8 starters. This is key as these players will be juiced (no pun intended) to give it a little extra, cognizant of the possibility that their respective teams could be playing in the "Fall Classic.
I remember Derek Jeter playing the entire game when the All Star Game was held at Yankee Stadium.
The National League also has incentive, but it's a more of watered-down league with less offensive firepower. Matt Kemp will be starting, but he hasn't played since the beginning of the season due to a hamstring injury, and Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants will be playing for the first time.
When Cabrera was with the Yankees, he was a mere average player, point being that the American League is a cut above the National League when it comes to offense, and Papelbon is more vulnerable as a closer than Nathan.
When Miguel Cabrera and Paul Konerko can't crack the starting lineup, that's a powerful team.
The Young Guns
The American League also has Los Angeles Angels Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout on the bench. These two players are actually two of the most talented young stars in baseball.
On the season, Trout has 12 HR, 40 RBI, .341 BA, and 26 SB. This young man is just 20 years old! Mark Trumbo has 22 HR, 57 RBI, and a .306 BA. Surprisingly, he's been the Angels franchise as Albert Pujols has been a disappointment.
The National League has their own "young gun" in 19 year old Bryce Harper. Harper plays for the NL East division-leading Washington Nationals and there was actually more hype concerning him than Trout at the beginning of the season.
Thus far, Trout has been the better player, but Harper is a gamer. He was elected as a replacement for the National League squad. On the season, Harper has 8 HR, 25 RBI, .282 BA, 10 SB, and a great glove.
Outcome of the game
There's no need to break down the "X's and O's" in this situation. Occasionally a lesser player on either team can come up with a big hit. I give the American League the edge here as I think that they're simply the better team with starters that are looking to play in the World Series with home field advantage. Justin Verlander is a pitcher with ice water running through his veins. Aalthough R.A. Dickey has been the best pitcher in baseball, he's never been tested in an atmosphere like this. This game could be close so stick with the moneyline.
All Star betting pick: American League - 124