Scherzer, Turner among Nats’ most deserving All-Star candidates originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
When MLB released its starting lineups for the All-Star Game on Thursday, there wasn’t a single member of the Nationals to be found.
That’s hardly surprising. Washington has seen just one player not named Bryce Harper crack the starting lineup via the fan vote since 2012 and that was Ryan Zimmerman, whose comeback season in 2017 helped him earn the top spot among NL first basemen. Couple that with the Nationals’ slow start and it’s easy to see how several of their hitters were overlooked.
On Sunday, MLB will release the rest of the rosters, including reserve hitters and the full pitching staffs for each squad. Even though the rules state all 30 teams must have at least one All-Star representative, the Nationals should have no problem landing a few players on the NL roster.
Here are their most deserving candidates ahead of Sunday’s announcement.
The Nationals’ ace has been just as dominant in Year 7 of his $210 million deal as he was in Year 1, sporting career lows in ERA (2.10) and WHIP (0.763) while racking up 127 strikeouts over 16 starts. If not for the presence of Jacob deGrom, Scherzer might have a case for his fourth Cy Young. Instead, he’ll have to settle for his eighth career All-Star appearance. Ho-hum.
Turner never had much of a chance to start at shortstop for the NL with Fernando Tatís Jr. manning the same spot in San Diego. He leads all NL shortstops in hits (100) and stolen bases (18) but the Padres’ phenom has hit for more power and has the advantage of being one of the most popular players in the game. Turner should be a lock to back him up and nab his first All-Star appearance after being snubbed in years past.
About midway through the month of June, there was a case to be made for Juan Soto to represent the Nationals’ outfield at the Midsummer Classic. Then the player opposite him went off. Schwarber hit 16 home runs in 18 days to vault himself into the home run race and merit NL Player of the Month honors. Schwarber never made the All-Star Game in six years with the Cubs. His hot three-week stretch may have just earned him a spot in his first year in D.C.
This one is a bit of a long shot, as reliever spots are tough to come by with the commissioner’s office often using them to ensure every team has a representative. However, Hand has quietly been one of baseball’s best closers this season, locking down 18 saves with a 2.60 ERA and 1.067 WHIP over 33 appearances. The Nationals aren’t in the thick of the NL East race without him, especially with the injuries their bullpen has sustained this season.