San Diego’s Petco Park hosts the MLB All-Star Game, the annual contest where the best NL players take on the AL elite in a fight to determine the World Series’ home field advantage (8pm ET Tuesday). Read on for our All-Star Game preview with betting picks.
In addition to Petco Park’s hosting debut, there are some other firsts that will be on display starting with the two men who will take the mound. Both Johhny Cueto (NL; SF) and Chris Sale (AL; CHW) make their initial starts as all-stars.
Sale (pictured) got the start over Boston’s Steven Wright, a knuckleballer whose 2.68 ERA leads the entire AL. But for AL manager Ned Yost, it was never a question of who would start as the Kansas City Royals manager had wanted to start the 27-year-old lefty last year, but ultimately was unable to.
The six year veteran, who has never finished a season with an ERA over 3.50, is continuing to thrive in his role as the Chicago White Sox’ top arm. He already has three complete games, one shy of his career best four from 2013 and a shutout, which also matches his career best from the same season. His 14-3 record (most wins in the AL) is just three wins away from topping his 17 in 2012.
In addition to his AL-leading 14 wins, Sale also paces the AL in innings pitched. He is third in strikeouts, fourth in WHIP, 5th in winning percentage and his three complete games are also good enough for best in his league.
Opposite him on the mound is Cueto, who is proving himself as a force to be reckoned with in this his first season with the MLB-leading San Francisco Giants. Cueto was the easy selection for the start as perennial starters Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner had to drop out, alongside possible choices in Stephen Strasburg, who has chosen not to play, and Noah Syndergaard, who just landed on the DL. But putting those names aside, Cueto probably gets the nod anyway due to his NL-leading 13 wins and 131.1 innings pitched as well as his MLB-leading four complete games and two shut outs, both also tied for career highs.
Cueto has lost just one game this season and it occurred early on, in just his fourth start of the season. Since then, he has made 14 starts, recording 10 wins and just the four no decisions. He has been the hottest pitcher in baseball and is ranked 2nd in the NL in winning percentage, 3rd in ERA, 5th in WHIP and 9th in strikeouts.
It is likely these two will only pitch an inning or so to allow the other starters and relievers on the roster to get some work in. But their role is ostensibly the most important as like it does in any regular or postseason game, the first inning sets the tone. They’ll be facing the highest quality batters but in years past pitchers have dominated the game. With the arms around this year, it should be more of the same.
Chicago Cubs Center Stage With Seven Selections
In has been a spectacular year thus far for Joe Maddon’s squad and those results show in a huge way as the Cubs are sending seven players, including five starting position players, to this year’s midsummer classic. This makes them the first time in close to 100 years to be starting their entire infield (1B, 2B, SS, 3B) at the game.
All fan voted in selections, this will be the second All Star nod for Kris Bryant, 3rd for Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo, 4th for Jon Lester and first for Dexter Fowler, Addison Russell and Jake Arrieta. For the non-pitchers however, as pitchers aren’t chosen via fan vote, this is the first time any of those players reached the mid-summer classic via that method.
It’s not to say that the Cubs’ players aren’t deserving because most are, especially considering the team had the best record in baseball up until a recent slump. But in some cases, the fan vote seems to have failed. Daniel Murphy (WAS) did not get the start over Zobrist despite batting an MLB best .348 and sitting top three in the NL in OPS, SLG and RBI as well.
The All-Star game is meant to put the best on the field but at the same time, it is the only one of the big four U.S. sports in which the game is not merely a showcase. Home field advantage in the World Series is on the line, which has been critical over the last decade in deciding the champion. For that reason, seeing so many Cubs, a team that many predict to win or at least challenge for the NL pennant this year allows the team to in some manner, put their destiny in their own hands.
Our All-Star Game Preview’s Betting Picks’ Predictions
A quick bit of history tells us that this is a game of streaks and the AL is in the midst of a pretty big win. Having won each of the last three years, the American League has been dominant dating back even further than that, all the way to 1986 when the league won just their third All-Star contest in the prior 24 tries. Since ’86 the AL has been firmly on top, winning 20 of 29 with one tie.
Currently, the AL is riding yet another mini-streak, having taken the last three after the NL had done the same. That broke what had been a 13-game undefeated stretch for the American League (12 wins and a tie).
Looking up and down the rosters, both teams are stacked as they always are. Both teams have potential at all positions and have depth that could lead them to victory. But the game is at an AL park, the DH will be in play and the streak is just getting started. Sale is a great choice to have on the mound to start and beyond him, it’s a cornucopia of pitchers who would cause even the best, which is what they’ll face, hitters a load of trouble. So to conclude this preview, here are our betting predictions and picks:
- The runline sits at just 1.5, which is not surprising given how close the last several contests have been. This one should be no different but given the line favors the NL, take the AL +1.5 @ best betting odds of -180 with Bovada Sportsbook. It is -185 with 5Dimes and -190 with BetOnline.
- As for the total of 7.5 total runs, stick with the over @ best odds of -110 with 5Dimes, Bovada and BetOnline.
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.