If the Dodgers advance to the World Series this year, Clayton Kershaw might start the All-Star game next year.
That might be the only way, or so it might seem. Kershaw could be the best pitcher in the major leagues, but he will not start the All-Star game.
Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals will start for the National League in Tuesday's All-Star game at Target Field. Mike Matheny, the manager of the Cardinals, earned the right to manage the NL team because the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in last year's NL Championship Series.
In announcing his decision, Matheny spoke of the "unfair advantage" Wainwright had in that the Cardinals see his leadership and performance every day. However, when asked whether Wainwright still would be starting if he pitched for another team and the choice was based on numbers alone, Matheny said: "If the manager wasn't a Dodger, then yeah."
With the All-Star game at New York's Citi Field last season, NL Manager Bruce Bochy started New York Mets rookie Matt Harvey. Kershaw respected Bochy's desire to start the hometown pitcher but was not thrilled that Bochy said this of Harvey: "It wouldn't have mattered what city we were playing in with the year he's had."
"That's his opinion," Kershaw bristled then. He added: "It hurts."
Kershaw took Matheny's decision in stride — "You're not going to not pick your guy," Kershaw said — and said there was a legitimate case to be made for Wainwright.
"Adam deserves it," Kershaw said. "I have all the respect in the world for Adam."
Wainwright is 12-4 with a 1.83 earned-run average that ranks second in the majors to Kershaw. In June and July, the months in which Kershaw has soared the highest, Wainwright was 4-1 in seven starts, with a 1.03 ERA.
"He's won two World Series," Kershaw said. "I'd trade Cy Youngs for World Series any day of the week."
Wainwright, 32, also has pitched 42 more innings and started five more games than Kershaw, who did not pitch in April because of a strained muscle in his upper back.
Kershaw, 26, is on pace to lead the major leagues in ERA for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season. He is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA. His ratio of 11.8 strikeouts for every walk is the best among major league starters.
Would he like to start an All-Star game?
"Of course, I'd say yes," he said. "It's not something that's on my bucket list."
Mike Trout is widely considered the best player in baseball. He would have been a natural for Monday night's home run derby — he has more home runs than any of the 10 contestants — but he rejected an invitation.
"A lot of guys were giving me crap about it," Trout said.
His Angels teammates?
"Around the league," Trout said.
Trout, 22, left little doubt that his decision reflected the wishes of Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. Trout said he would welcome another opportunity to participate.
"If I get another chance, and if I said I wanted to do it," Trout said, "Scioscia would be against it, but he would support it."
Trout said Scioscia is concerned that taking so many hard swings in such a limited amount of time could hamper his performance and heighten the risk of injury.
"I don't think it will mess up my swing," Trout said.
David Price watch
David Price, who could be traded by the Tampa Bay Rays before the July 31 deadline, said he has not talked about a new contract with the Rays since the 2012-13 off-season. He said he has "a couple teams" he would prefer joining if Tampa Bay were to trade him, but he declined to identify them.
The Dodgers and Angels each would like to acquire a starting pitcher, but the Dodgers say they do not wish to trade the top prospects necessary to get an ace pitcher such as Price, and the Angels do not appear to have the prospects to trade.
Price said he would have no trouble joining a team on which he would not be the undisputed ace.
"I don't care," he said. "I'd rather be a No. 5. I'd rather face everybody else's No. 5. I don't want to face the Kershaws and Wainwrights."
If Price had to pick one, would he pick Kershaw or Wainwright?
"Clayton is the best pitcher in baseball," Price said. "He is."
Mike Stanton watch
The Dodgers appear fully stocked in the outfield, but could they pass on a chance to bring Giancarlo Stanton home?
Stanton, 24, leads the NL in home runs. He played high school ball at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, and his friends often ask him when he will come home to play.
"All the time," Stanton said. "They're like, 'You need to come play for us.' I do get that, especially after we go and play there."
Stanton said that playing for the hometown team was "the original dream, when you're a kid." As a major league player, he remains under the control of the Miami Marlins through the 2016 season, although the Marlins could trade him for a huge return if they were convinced he would not sign an extension to stay in Miami.
Power is increasingly scarce in the major leagues, particularly from such a young player, and virtually every team that could afford to pay him would line up to trade for him.
"I want to win," Stanton said. "If we're prepared to win, I want to stay."
Does he believe the Marlins are prepared to win?
"Look at the record," he said.
The Marlins are 44-50 and in fourth place in the NL East. They have not posted a winning record since Stanton made his debut in 2010.
Stanton said he believed the Marlins were headed in the right direction before injuries hit. They were in first place as recently as May 9 and above .500 as recently as June 20.
"We need to keep progressing," he said. "No more backpedaling or revamping."