Dodger pitcher Kevin Brown has had a first half worthy of an invitation to start the July 15 All-Star game for the National League, but the way the Dodger rotation is aligned, Brown may not be able to pitch in, let alone start, the game.
Brown, who is 10-3 with a 2.24 earned-run average and 97 strikeouts, is scheduled to start Thursday against San Diego, July 8 at San Diego and July 13 -- the Sunday before the All-Star break -- at Colorado.
If Brown throws seven or eight innings and 100 pitches or so against the Rockies on July 13, it could knock him out of an opportunity to appear in the All-Star game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago two days later.
And if Chicago Cub Manager Dusty Baker, the NL All-Star manager, asks Dodger Manager Jim Tracy to shuffle his rotation so Brown can pitch in the All-Star game, it’s doubtful Tracy will be able to oblige.
“It could be a dilemma,” Tracy said. “I can’t commit [to changing the rotation] today because we need a guy of Brown’s magnitude in Colorado. I’m sure Dusty understands this, but one game can mean an awful lot in a 162-game schedule.”
Of course, the All-Star game means something this summer too -- in case you missed the barrage of Fox television ads, the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
But with the Dodgers, who finished three games out of the playoffs last season, in the thick of a four-team NL West race, Tracy can’t afford to skip Brown even once in his rotation.
It’s possible Brown could treat the All-Star game like a between-starts bullpen workout “depending on his health,” Tracy said, but if Brown isn’t quite at full strength for the All-Star game, that could compromise the NL’s chances of winning and gaining home-field advantage in October.
Brown, who ranks second in the league in ERA and wins, sixth in strikeouts and ninth in opponents’ batting average against (.226), is almost certain to be among the eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers -- chosen by players, managers and coaches -- for the NL team.
But if he can’t start, Baker would probably turn to San Francisco right-hander Jason Schmidt, who is 7-3 with a league-leading 2.23 ERA and .193 opponents’ batting average, or Cub right-hander Mark Prior, who is 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA and ranks second in the NL with 127 strikeouts. Brown declined comment on the matter Sunday.