The biggest obstacle keeping Zack Wheeler from starting his first All-Star Game has been removed.
Mets ace Jacob deGrom made what may be his final start prior to the break this afternoon against the Brewers. Afterward he told reporters that not only is he not participating in the mid-summer Classic, but he isn’t even going to Denver for the festivities.
Had he decided to participate, deGrom would have been a lock to start for the National League in next Tuesday’s game. The 2-time Cy Young winner leads all of baseball – by a lot – in ERA with a microscopic 1.08. He took over the MLB lead in strikeouts for the moment, passing Wheeler with his ten Ks today, giving him 146, seven more than the Phillies’ righthander.
With deGrom opting out, Wheeler will likely step in as the NL’s starting pitcher. He leads the NL in innings pitched (114) and WAR (5.2), second in HR allowed per 9 innings (0.55), and third in ERA (2.05). He’s having the best season for a Phillies pitcher since the late Roy Halladay in 2011, which, coincidentally, is the last time a Phillies pitcher started an All-Star Game.
Other possibilities to replace deGrom as the NL starter are Kevin Gausman of the Giants (8-3, 1.74), Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff (7-4, 2.10), and Trevor Rogers of the Marlins (7-5, 2.22).
Max Scherzer of the Nationals (7-4, 2.10), who was left off the NL roster, could be a replacement for deGrom, as well as his Mets teammate Taijuan Walker (7-3, 2.44).