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Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw to start All-Star Game for National League at home stadium

Clayton Kershaw pitches at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on July 3. Kershaw will start for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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He has won three Cy Young Awards and been named to nine All-Star teams.

He is a five-time ERA champion and a former MVP.

He has started 388 career regular-season games, and 23 in the postseason.

And on Tuesday night, in the only big league ballpark he’s ever called home, he’ll add one more start — and one more accolade — to his future Hall-of-Fame career.

Clayton Kershaw will be the starting pitcher for the National League in this year’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, giving the Dodgers left-hander his first career start in a midsummer classic.

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Mike Trout, who has missed the last four games with what was previously described as a back issue, was put on the 10-day injured list by the Angels.

July 18, 2022

“Now that it’s finally here and I get to start that game tomorrow night, it means a lot,” Kershaw said during a Monday afternoon news conference, adding with a laugh: “Hopefully I don’t screw it up too bad.”

It was a choice many around baseball saw coming for weeks, especially as Kershaw finished his injury-abbreviated first half on a tear that included seven perfect innings in his last start Friday against the Angels.

By the next day, Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, who is managing the National League team after the Braves won the National League pennant last year, had settled on Kershaw officially, as well.

“Clayton’s name just kept coming to the forefront,” Snitker said.

Delivering the news, however, took an extra phone call.

On Saturday afternoon, Snitker tried ringing up Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to relay the decision. Roberts was busy, though, stuck in a pregame meeting.

So, Snitker went a different route. He dialed his former first baseman, Freddie Freeman, who was in the Dodgers’ clubhouse with Kershaw ahead of the team’s first-half finale against the Angels.

“Freddie,” Snitker said. “I need to talk to Clayton.”

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the plate during the eighth inning against the Angels.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the plate during the eighth inning against the Angels on Friday at Angel Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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Thus, Kershaw received an honor that’s been 15 years in the making.

“What he’s meant to the game of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers,” Snitker said, “I think it’s just perfect that he starts this game.”

Kershaw didn’t have a perfect resume.

Although his 2.13 ERA ranked third among NL pitchers with at least 70 innings, it wasn’t even the best on his team, trailing Tony Gonsolin’s 2.02 mark.

He lacked the workload of most other candidates too. After being sidelined a month because of a back injury, he had barely half as many innings as Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcántara, who accumulated the most wins above replacement of all pitchers in the league, according to Fangraphs.

The All-Star Game National League lineup.
The starting lineup for the National League in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game.
(Jack Harris / Los Angeles Times)

“[Other] guys have better numbers than I do,” said Kershaw, who even called Alcántara after getting the news to congratulate him on his first half of the season. “They should be starting this game.”

However, in other ways, the 34-year-old was the most fitting selection for the first All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium since 1980. And as Kershaw discussed the event Monday, the sentimental significance wasn’t lost on him.

“Because it’s at Dodger Stadium,” Kershaw said, “there was a little more of like, ‘Man, it’d be really cool to get to do.’ ”

Kershaw had come close to being the All-Star Game starter several times before.

During Kershaw’s first All-Star-caliber and Cy Young-winning season in 2011, Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies got the nod. For the 2013 game hosted by the New York Mets, the host team’s ace, Matt Harvey, was picked over him.

The MLB All-Star Game returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1980 on Tuesday. Here’s our coverage:

July 20, 2022

In his 2014 MVP season, Kershaw was second in line again, following Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals. And since then, he’s twice seen teammates get the honor, with Zack Greinke starting in 2015 and Hyun-Jin Ryu in 2019.

This year was finally different, with Kershaw now set to achieve one more milestone on the mound at Dodger Stadium.

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“Honestly, the All-Star Games I’ve been a part of in the past, just being a part of them has been so great,” Kershaw said. “But this time, for me specifically to be here at home and things like that, it meant a lot more.”

For the American League team, Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays will be Tuesday’s starting pitcher. Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had been in consideration to start for a second straight year, but said Monday he isn’t planning to pitch in the game. He is scheduled to pitch on Friday when the Angels resume play in Atlanta.

Ohtani still will lead off for the AL as the designated hitter.

Dodgers players Mookie Betts and Trea Turner are starting for the NL, with Betts batting second as the center fielder and Turner hitting fifth as the shortstop.

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