MLBits: Pujols in the All-Star Game? Scherzer Returns and Dominates, Nats' Sale Coming Soon? Soto's Calf and Extension, Theo on Lost Breed of Starting Pitchers, More

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MLBits: Pujols in the All-Star Game? Scherzer Returns and Dominates, Nats’ Sale Coming Soon? Soto’s Calf and Extension, Theo on Lost Breed of Starting Pitchers, More

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We’re just about 48 hours away from the end of the fan voting process for the MLB All-Star Game rosters, but a wrinkle in the new CBA allows Rob Manfred an option to spice things up by adding legends to the roster at his discretion.

One Last All-Star Game for Pujols?

Albert Pujols wasn’t selected in the voting process for the 2022 MLB All-Star Game this month. His numbers (75 wRC+ and -0.7 fWAR) don’t warrant him being a part of the festivities in Los Angeles. This year, at least. I say that last part because his numbers before this year could have him in Los Angeles on the National League roster if Rob Manfred adds him. According to Ken Rosenthal, a new clause in the CBA allows the Commissioner to add a legend to the ASG rosters if he feels it’s warranted.

“In addition to the 32 players elected and selected to the All-Star Game, the Commissioner may choose to add one player that he selects to each League’s roster, in recognition of each player’s career achievements,” the clause states, according to a source. “If special circumstances warrant, the Commissioner may select more than one player to each league’s roster.”

Pujols sure fits that criteria. He’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer when eligible. He’s likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer. While his numbers this season don’t reflect him being an All-Star, Pujols’ farewell tour justifiably deserves a trip to Los Angeles for the ASG, especially considering it’s in Los Angeles. In this city, he spent a decade playing with the Angels (and briefly the Dodgers).

Some will balk at that notion, and that’s entirely fair. However, at the end of the day, what does it hurt? Not every player deserving to play in the game will be there. Some there are less worthy than others. The fan voting process has long been broken, and the game holds none of the lore it once did. What would the presence of a legendary player like Pujols getting an at-bat and a proper send-off hurt?

On the American League side, Miguel Cabrera is a perfect candidate to be added to the roster by the Commissioner. Cabrera, like Pujols, is a sure-fire Hall of Famer who picked up his 3,000th hit in April. If this is it for Cabrera, then why shouldn’t his lengthy resume warrant one final trip to the All-Star Game? Personally, I’m all for this rule and the addition of both modern-day legends being a part of the festivities this month.

Ken Rosenthal has more on the possibility in his latest column at The Athletic:

Max Scherzer Dominates in Return to Mets

It’s been seven weeks since Max Scherzer pitched for the Mets thanks to an oblique injury that sidelined him after a tremendous start that featured a 2.50 ERA in his first eight starts of the season for the first-place Mets. However, you wouldn’t know that Scherzer was making his first start in nearly two months by watching him against the Reds last night.

Scherzer was dominant, holding the Reds scoreless on two hits over six innings of work while racking up 11 strikeouts and allowing no walks. Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 21 Reds hitters he faced. He looked like his usual self, and that’s good news for the Mets, who have seen their lead in the NL East shrink to just two and a half games after the Braves won 20-plus games in June.

The Mets lost, and the offense didn’t score once, but that’s unlikely to be something Scherzer often has to deal with. The Mets’ offense has been potent this season; they’ll likely continue to be. The starting rotation needed an injection. They got their first dose on Tuesday night when Mad Max returned. Jacob deGrom will provide the second dose soon. The Mets will likely add at the trade deadline, and as it stands now, the race for the NL East crown is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing in baseball as we approach the second half of the season.

Tim Britton has more on Scherzer’s return:

Latest on Juan Soto, Nats’ Future

Juan Soto left the Nationals’ loss on Sunday with a calf injury and hasn’t started since, but an MRI revealed that Soto avoided a significant injury. Soto said on Monday that “everything was fine, we’re gonna be good” and insisted that he was just dealing with some tightness. Soto did pinch-hit for the Nationals on Monday (and drew a walk), so he’ll be a day-to-day case now.

The Washington Nationals have been bad this season. Still, it’s been reported that GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Martinez will have their options for the 2023 season exercised. Nationals Managing Principal owner Mark D. Lerner said that Rizzo and Martinez have led the nationals and will continue to do so.

“Mike and Davey have been leading the Washington Nationals for several years and it is only right to continue with them at the forefront,” said Nationals Managing Principal owner Mark D. Lerner. “Mike has led us through many different phases of our organization and we believe his work during this current phase will pay off in the end.

“Davey has done a tremendous job in the clubhouse and in the dugout for five seasons. His continued determination and unwavering support of his players make us proud. We are lucky to have Mike and Davey leading the way.”

For how long, though? A recent story by Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic indicates that Lerner might not be making these decisions much longer with a sale of the Nats potentially coming in the next few months.

“There’s cautious optimism that a Nationals sale could be completed as early as the next few months, in which case it could be voted on at the owner’s meetings this fall, though that situation remains fluid and the list of interested buyers is unknown.”

New ownership will want to rebuild the team and likely look for new leadership in the front office and on the field when they settle in. But, as Ghiroli points out in her story, even if a sale is finalized and voted upon at the owner’s meetings this offseason, that won’t leave the new ownership group with much time to conduct a search for a new GM and manager, so Rizzo and Martinez will likely be around in 2023 regardless of any potential sale.

Another wrinkle in all of this is the looming extension for Juan Soto. He was reportedly offered a 13-year, $350 million contract last year and, according to Ghiroli, a more significant unspecified deal this spring. While there hasn’t been much to watch in D.C. on the field this season, the Nats’ future and the future of one of baseball’s brightest young stars is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Odds and Ends …

  • The day of the starting pitcher being “the guy” and working seven, eight, or nine innings is seemingly behind us, and some think there’s no real value in it for the game or the on-field product. There’s long been a notion that clubs are protecting their massive financial investments (in starting pitchers, who are at an all-time premium) by limiting their workload and, in turn, preventing injuries. However, Theo Epstein tells Jeff Passan that MLB’s data doesn’t back that theory up: “The data shows we’re not keeping pitchers any healthier,” Epstein says. “All we’re doing is limiting how much they work.” Jeff Passan explores a dying breed in baseball, the starting pitcher, in his latest column at ESPN:
  • The Red Sox have promoted prospect Brayan Bello who will make his major league debut tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays. Alex Speier of The Boston Globe writes about the anticipated debut of Bello in Boston:
  • WOW:
  • The Orioles continue to provide us with fun this season:
  • After becoming the first team in MLB history to allow a game-ing or go-ahead home run in each of the final three innings, Cedric Mullins sent the Camden Yards fans home happy with this walk-off hit:
  • The Athletic‘s MLB staff checks in on the buyer/seller status of every MLB team as we approach the trade deadline:

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.