All-Star break provides chance to look back, ahead

Ken Morse

Major League Baseball has reached the halfway point of the season with a four-day break in the action as the stars of the game assembled at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. for the 88th annual midsummer classic on Tuesday.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale became the 16th pitcher in All-Star game history to start in back-to-back seasons going up against Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals. The American League pulled out the win, 2-1, in 10 innings.

There were 11 first-time All-Stars to peak the fans’ interest led by Home Run Derby Champion Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees who smacked an incredible 47 dingers on Monday night.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have their own super hero this year in National League rookie of the year favorite Cody Bellinger who came into the All-Star game with 25 homers and 58 RBI to rival Judge, the American League favorite for rookie of the year who has 30 homers and 66 RBI.

Regardless of the fan voting, injuries have always altered the lineup and some big names missed the midsummer classic. Mike Trout (Angels), Starlin Castro (Yankees) Dallas Keuchel (Astros), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Corey Kluber (Indians) and Yu Darvish (Rangers) were scheduled to start.

Filling in the void were Robinson Cano (Mariners), Justin Upton (Tigers) and strikeout artist Chris Devenski of the Astros with his 74 strikeouts in 52 innings along with Dodgers’ phenom Alex Wood who is an incredible 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA at the break.

The argument remains, and always will as long as there is an All-Star game, about players who should have been there who weren’t. This year’s disadvantaged were Kris Bryant (Cubs) with 16 home runs, Anthony Rendon (Nationals) top five in RBI, home runs, runs scored and hits, Gio Gonzalez (Nationals) third best ERA in the NL with 104 strikeouts, and Carlos Carrasco (Indians) at 10-3 with 114 strikeouts.

The second half of the season should prove to be interesting as teams battle it out for a spot in the playoffs. Our local favorites, the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets, have all taken different turns.

Boston sits on top of the AL East at 50-39, a far cry from what was expected heading into the season with former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, David Price and new acquisition Chris Sale tabbed as the big three.

Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Andrew Benintendi have carried the offense, but how far they will go down the stretch will make all the difference in seeing the playoffs from the dugout or on T.V.

The Yankees are a surprise with a bunch of eager youngsters looking to get back in the thick of things like days of old. So far so good, as they are right on the heels of the Red Sox at 45-41. Aaron Hicks, Gabe Sanchez and Judge have provided excitement to a lineup that was feeling its age.

Pitching will tell the story when the dog days of August show up. The difference between staying in the hunt and becoming the early bird special depends on consistent starting pitching and a bullpen that can be relied on.

The Mets have seen more injuries than an emergency room. Saddled with a 39-47 mark and 12 games out, things don’t look like they will get much better at Citi Field the rest of the summer.

Twenty players have ended up on the dreaded disable list so far, including pitchers Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Steve Matz and 2016 All-Stars Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia.

The Mets’ 7-3 start in April quickly dissipated, as a 1-10 mark over the next 11 games followed. The Mets finished up the month with a 23-5 loss to Washington, which sums up the season thus far for the Mets.

Now that the Cubs broke their curse in 2016 and the Royals won their first World Series in 20 years in 2015, it appears that MLB will be looking to a new savior in the Houston Astros.

The Astros are running away with it perched on top of the AL West with a Major League best 60-29 mark. First in runs and average and fifth in ERA, it looks like Houston has all the tools in the shed for the long haul. And with a roster full of All-Stars (6) the Astros look like the team to beat going down the stretch.