The Phillies will have a starter in Tuesday night's All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver.
It just won't be Zack Wheeler.
National League manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers has tabbed Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer as his starting pitcher.
Scherzer's batterymate will be frequent rival J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies catcher will play in his third All-Star Game and first as a starter. San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey had been voted the starter by the fans, but he won't play because of an injury. Realmuto was selected by players and managers in the league.
Shohei Ohtani, the two-way sensation from the Los Angeles Angels, will start on the mound for the American League. Ohtani will also hit in the game. He leads the majors with 33 homers.
New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who has the best ERA in the majors at 1.08, likely would have been the NL starter had he not opted to skip the All-Star Game in favor of some rest.
With deGrom out, Roberts had several good candidates to choose from, including Wheeler, Walker Buehler of the Dodgers, German Marquez of the Colorado Rockies and Scherzer.
Wheeler ranks first in the NL in innings (119⅔), second in strikeouts (145) and fourth in ERA (2.26).
Scherzer ranks 22nd in innings (98), fourth in strikeouts (134) and 10th in ERA (2.66).
In explaining his decision, Roberts said Scherzer, who will turn 37 later this month, had "passed the test of time." Scherzer has won three Cy Young Awards and been selected to eight All-Star teams. This will be his fourth start.
"Max, with what he's done this year, what he's done for the game of baseball, his track record, for me it was a no-brainer," Roberts said.
Scherzer helped his team win the World Series in 2019 but he and his manager, Dave Martinez, did not reap All-Star spoils last summer when the event was canceled because of the pandemic. Roberts said that added into his decision to go with Scherzer.
"With as many quality arms as there are in the National League, I'm blessed and thankful for this opportunity," Scherzer said.
Wheeler, a first-time All-Star, will get an inning in the game and it could come early enough when Realmuto is still behind the plate.
Wheeler, Realmuto and Scherzer have some history this season. In June, Scherzer came into Citizens Bank Park and beat Wheeler twice to run his career mark to 13-4 with a 2.59 ERA in 23 starts against the Phils.
On June 4, Scherzer beat Wheeler in a tight pitchers' duel. Both pitchers worked into the eighth and the Nationals won that game, 2-1.
In the sixth inning of that game, Scherzer hit Realmuto in the shoulder with a pitch that appeared to be intentional. Realmuto was none too happy and stared at Scherzer as he began toward first base. The pitch may have stemmed from some chatter between Realmuto and Juan Soto earlier in the game.
On June 22, Scherzer beat Wheeler and the Phils again at Citizens Bank Park. That was the game in which Phils manager Joe Girardi asked umpires to check Scherzer's hair for illegal product.
So, if Realmuto and Scherzer get bored talking about the game plan, they'll have other topics to explore.
The American League team will be managed by Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash. Here is the AL starting lineup:
1. Shohei Ohtani DH/P
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B
3. Xander Bogaerts SS
4. Aaron Judge RF
5. Rafael Devers 3B
6. Marcus Semien 2B
7. Salvador Perez C
8. Teoscar Hernandez LF
9. Cedric Mullins CF
Here is the National League starting lineup:
1. Fernando Tatis Jr. SS
2. Max Muncy DH
3. Nolan Arenado 3B
4. Freddie Freeman 1B
5. Nick Castellanos RF
6. Jesse Winker LF
7. J.T. Realmuto C
8. Bryan Reynolds CF
9. Adam Frazier 2B
Max Scherzer P