The 2021 MLB All-Star Weekend has almost concluded as there is just one event remaining on the calendar. With the Home Run Derby and MLB Draft in the books, all eyes will now be on the Midsummer Classic All-Star Game today (7.30pm ET Tuesday; TV: Live on Fox) as the American League will look for their 8th straight victory.
Over the years, this game has played host to some of baseball’s finest. While home field advantage in the World Series is no longer part of the competition, bragging rights are still on the line. When it comes to bragging rights, these athletes will no doubt want to show out and show up in front of a national audience. All of MLB’s teams are represented. It is time to have some fun in the final event of the first half of the season.
Starting Pitchers and Lineups
On Monday night, MLB announced the two pitchers who will be starting today’s game and it’s definitely a star-studded matchup. Starting on the mound for the NL is Max Scherzer, a man whose reputation precedes itself. Scherzer has won several Cy Youngs, ERA titles and more. Of course, most fans were hoping for Jacob DeGrom to face off against the AL, but DeGrom as well as Kevin Gausman of the San Francisco Giants have both opted to sit this one out. That leaves Scherzer as the NL’s ace which isn’t that bad of a proposition. Scherzer may not be having his best season but thanks to him the Washington Nationals are still in contention in the NL East.
Opposing him will be the star of the show. The man that everyone is coming to see, Shohei Ohtani. Representing the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani will be both pitching and hitting for the American League. He is the first player to start an All-Star Game at two different positions on two different sides of the ball. Late Monday night, when the lineups for the game were finalized, Ohtani made more history as he was named the starting pitcher and will be hitting top of the order as the DH. Ohtani is an electric player who has brought so many eyes to the game. It’s only fitting someone of his stature would have such an important part to play.
Of course, this is an All-Star Game which means the managers, Kevin Cash for the AL and Dave Roberts for the NL, will have a full roster of pitchers to manage. It is unlikely either Ohtani or Scherzer pitch long enough to factor into the final decision. In fact, it is unlikely both pitch any more than an inning. Both the AL and NL have excellent pitchers in their starting and relief corps so this will be a great opportunity to see some of these lesser-known arms in action.
From an offensive standpoint, the story is once again focused on Ohtani. Despite losing in the first round of the Home Run Derby, almost no one doubts that Ohtani can go yard at Coors Field at will. It would be surprising to none to see him record both a home run and strike out in this game.
Now, Ohtani may lead the AL but he’s backed by a slew of teammates, largely representing the AL’s best division, the AL East. This includes not one but three members of the Toronto Blue Jays as Marcus Semian, Teoscar Hernandez, and of course Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are all starting in this game. New York Yankees star Aaron Judge joins Boston Red Sox, Rafael Devers and Xander Boegarts, in a lineup that is built to score runs. Expect no shortage of home runs and extra base hits as the AL’s offense is absolutely stacked.
The NL’s offense isn’t as flashy on paper though it does feature one of the flashiest and best young players in baseball in Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis has been a boost to the game, bringing passion and, more importantly, fun back into the sport. A matchup of him against Ohtani is a baseball fan’s dream and one that will be lived out in the first inning of today’s game.
Beyond Tatis, the NL features a tom of for-average hitters in guys like Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, and Adam Frazier. They also won’t be short on power with guys like Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy adding to Tatis’ home run hitting ways.
It’s an All-Star Game. Overall, neither roster necessarily has weaknesses. All of these players are here on merit. Sure runs will be scored and pitchers will strike out top names. But overall, the All-Star Game tends to be evenly matched on paper. That’s where the fun is. Both these rosters are incredible so win or lose, these two leagues both pick up somewhat of a victory in that their best players will be on display for the world to see.
This is especially true for the smaller market teams of which the NL has no shortage. Four of the league’s starting nine come from the NL Central, easily the most under the radar division in all of baseball and one that features some of the league’s smallest markets.
Final Pick for Today’s MLB Midsummer Classic All-Star Game 2021 with Predictions for this Preview
In many ways, this year is all about Shohei Ohtani. He leads all of baseball in home runs with 33 and has a better than respectable AL ERA of 3.49. He also has 70 RBI, 65 runs, oh and by the way, can run too having stolen 15 bases on the year. There is nothing this guy can’t do and today, he will show that to a national audience.
Beyond Ohtani, guys like Tatis and Guerrero, both of whom rank among the top three in home runs as well, will be stars fans come out to see. Offense will be the story of the night and both teams are loaded with potential in that area.
One team has to win and the AL is currently on a seven-game winning streak. It sounds like a lot but this is actually pretty common for the All-Star Game as streaks come like ebbs and flows for the two leagues. It is customary for one league to have a winning streak and then see that matched by the other league. It’s not often teams trade wins.
Looking at the odds, it seems the sportsbooks are pegging the NL to break the skid, -1.5 on the spread with a total of 11. As nice as that sounds, we’re sticking with the AL: Ohtani, Guerrero, Judge and company. It’s hard to find more power in the MLB than resides in the AL’s lineup. Plus, pitching seems to favor the American League and that’s not just when it comes to Ohtani. So our 2021 All-Star Game Midsummer Classic predictions for this preview are:
- Take the AL +1.5 @ -175 with Bovada, BetOnline or Intertops.
- Go over 11 total runs @ best odds of +100 (evens) with Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.