National League favored as public anticipates high-scoring MLB All-Star Game

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Jul 12, 2021; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter/starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani hits during the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The National League is the consensus favorite in what the public anticipates to be a high-scoring All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver on Tuesday night.

Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer will start for the N.L., which is being backed by 61 percent of the bets and 57 percent of the handle as a 1.5-run favorite at DraftKings. Meanwhile, the American League will send Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani to the mound.

The A.L.’s -105 moneyline is being backed by 56 percent of the bets but only 48 percent of the handle at DraftKings. PointsBet is offering the same moneyline, with the A.L. backed by 58 percent of the bets and only 42 percent of the handle at the sportsbook.

Ohtani is slated to do something on Tuesday that even Babe Ruth didn’t — start an All-Star Game as a pitcher and then switch to hitting when his mound moment is done.

“I wasn’t expecting to be chosen as a pitcher at all, but to be named the starter is a huge honor,” the right-handed throwing, left-handed hitting Ohtani said through translator Ippei Mizuhara at All-Star Game media day.

Scherzer will start his fourth All-Star Game, and he is just the sixth pitcher to have the honor — with the other five members of the Hall of Fame (Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez, Robin Roberts, Jim Palmer and Randy Johnson).

Despite the marquee names beginning the game on the mound, both sportsbooks have seen the Over/Under for total runs scored bet up to 11.0.

The Over is being backed by 62 percent of the bets and 60 percent of the handle at DraftKings. The market opened at 10.5 at PointsBet, where it has moved to 11.0 with the Over backed by 74 percent of the bets and 61 percent of the handle.

Manager Dave Roberts’ batting order for the NL is:

  • Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres; Max Muncy, DH, Dodgers; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Cardinals; Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves; Nick Castellanos, RF, Reds; Jesse Winker, LF, Reds; J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies; Bryan Reynolds, CF, Pirates; Adam Frazier, 2B, Pirates.

Ohtani was voted in as the American League DH and then his peers voted him in as a pitcher. Major League Baseball changed the rules to allow Ohtani to be recognized, essentially, as two players — a pitcher and hitter.

AL manager Kevin Cash named him the starting pitcher so that Ohtani can begin the game as a pitcher and a hitter, instead of bringing him in from the bullpen after his plate appearances. He’ll bat leadoff for the AL.

“I begged Major League Baseball to tweak the rule for the game because if they didn’t, I knew I’d screw it up,” Cash said. “For this game we’ll be able use Shohei as two players. When he’s done pitching, he can remain in the game.”

The rest of the AL starting lineup is:

  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays; Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox; Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees; Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox; Marcus Semien, 2B, Blue Jays; Salvador Perez, C, Royals; Teoscar Hernandez, LF, Blue Jays; Cedric Mullins, CF, Orioles.

Ohtani is batting .279 with a major league-leading 33 home runs. The home runs are a single-season record for a Japanese-born player and an Angels record before the All-Star break. He is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts on the mound this season.

He will be the second Japanese-born player to serve as a starting pitcher in an All-Star Game. Hideo Nomo, who has the only no-hitter in Coors Field history, started for the NL as a Los Angeles Dodger in 1995.

This is the first of Ohtani’s four seasons with the Angels in which he has been hitting and pitching regularly. He started 10 games in 2018 and just two last year. He didn’t pitch in 2019.

Ohtani entered this year having hit 47 homers over his first three seasons.

Health has been a big factor in his ability to excel at both in 2021.

“I wasn’t able to do what I really wanted to do (in previous seasons),” he said. “This season I’ve been healthy and so far, it’s been a really great season.”

–Field Level Media