Who should start the 2024 MLB All-Star Game? Paul Skenes has earned NL honors, but who deserves AL nod?

Though the game is an exhibition, being the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game has long been a prestigious honor. The pitchers who started the most All-Star Games all are or will be Hall of Famers, as Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez and Robin Roberts started five times apiece while Jim Palmer, Max Scherzer and Randy Johnson have started four times each. 

Who should start the 2024 MLB All-Star Game? Let’s take a quick look. 

American League

The AL team will take the field first, as the game is being hosted by the defending champion Rangers in Globe Life Field. We aren’t going to see an opener, so the starting pitchers on the AL roster are the list of choices for Bruce Bochy: Tyler Anderson, Corbin Burnes, Garrett Crochet, Logan Gilbert, Tanner Houck, Seth Lugo, Cole Ragans and Tarik Skubal. 

One of the easiest ways to pare down the list is to see who is scheduled to start next Sunday and cross them off. Gilbert is the only one, so we’re still forced to choose between seven studs. 

Lugo leads the league in wins, ERA and WAR. Skubal and Burnes are right on his heels, though. Lugo leads the league in innings while Crochet, Ragans and Skubal sit atop the strikeouts leaderboard. Burnes being a former Cy Young winner and playing on arguably the best team in the league probably carries some weight here. 

The pick: Seth Lugo, Royals

I’m going with Lugo because he leads the league in ERA and innings. I’ve always said this is the easiest way for me to determine which pitcher has been best. He’s been the best at run prevention while also doing so with the highest workload. What else matters? With Lugo, it’s quite the story, too. He was mostly a reliever for his last five years with the Mets before going to full-time starting duties with the Padres last season. The Royals signed him to a two-year deal last offseason and he’s pitched like an ace all year, posting a career year at age 34. That’s all kinds of fun.

National League

The NL team starting pitchers, from whom Torey Lovullo will choose: Tyler Glasnow, Shota Imanaga, Reynaldo López, Chris Sale, Paul Skenes, Ranger Suárez, Logan Webb and Zack Wheeler. 

Again, we’ll look at who is scheduled to pitch next Sunday in hopes that it narrows the list. It doesn’t by much. Only Wheeler is set to go Sunday, so he’s out.

Suárez leads in ERA while Sale is second and leads in wins and WHIP. He’s third in strikeouts. Glasnow leads in strikeouts, but he isn’t in the top 10 in ERA. Webb leads in innings pitched and is seventh in ERA. He’s also been an established frontline starter for several years, so he’d make sense. Sale would make sense with his story, as a former All-Star Game starter and long-time ace having a career renaissance at age 35. I actually think, under normal circumstances, I’d pick Sale. 

The pick: Paul Skenes

These aren’t normal circumstances, though. Skenes is the first pitcher ever taken No. 1 overall to make the All-Star team the following season. This is a national showcase in the form of an exhibition game, so why not show the masses our shiny new toy? He isn’t qualified for the ERA title due to workload — he started the season in Triple-A being handled with kid gloves by the Pirates — but he’s been amazing. In 10 starts, he’s 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 78 strikeouts against only 12 walks in 59 1/3 innings. 

It also sets up a fun story with the unlikely, 34-year-old veteran taking the ball on one side and the rookie phenom on the other. 

We don’t yet know the lineups, but even if Skenes only pitches one inning, he’s liable to face something like Jose Altuve, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, with Yordan Alvarez looming should anyone reach base. 

Think about Skenes facing Altuve, Soto and Judge and tell me you’d rather someone else start. C’mon. This is dream-type stuff.

Not only that, but who would’ve predicted back in April the All-Star Game matchup would be Seth Lugo vs. Paul Skenes?

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