What, you thought they were really going to have an All-Star game without Clayton Kershaw?
Not likely. The reigning MVP had to wait longer than most, but he was officially added to the NL squad Sunday morning to replace Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who started Sunday.
When Kershaw fell short in the final vote Friday, Manager Don Mattingly hardly seemed to blink. Reporters asked him if his plans for a second-half shuffle of the rotation were thrown off by the chance that Kershaw might have an unexpected four days off.
Not really, Mattingly said. And although he did not come right out and say it, he did seem confident Kershaw would find some way to make it to Cincinnati.
With the selection, Kershaw now has made five straight All-Star games, and also avoids becoming the first reigning MVP to miss out on the game since teammate Jimmy Rollins did so in 2008.
"I said it before: I have no pride in how I get there," Kershaw said. "You get to go to the All-Star game. I don’t care if I was the batboy, as long as I get to make it there. It’s a special time. You look back on all those; nobody will remember you were a replacement of a replacement that didn’t win the fan vote."
In his final start before the break, Kershaw certainly made a strong case for his inclusion, shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies and striking out 13. His earned-run average of 2.85 ranks 10th in the NL, and he leads the league in strikeouts. His fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark of 2.42 is third in the majors.
He replaces one of baseball's most dominant pitchers in the first half of 2015. Scherzer came within one strike of a perfect game earlier this season, and is top five in the majors in ERA, WHIP, FIP, strikeouts, innings pitched and opponents' batting average.
And in taking Scherzer's spot, Kershaw may have helped out a teammate. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has not named a starter for the All-Star game, but Scherzer and Zack Greinke were both considered strong candidates.
Bochy did make one announcement involving the Dodgers on Sunday. In place of the injured Matt Holliday, rookie Joc Pederson will start in center field.
Before Sunday's game, Mattingly said he has a sense of who will get the start, but deferred to Bochy to make the announcement. He also hinted that, depending on how things played out during the day, decisions could change.