Right-hander Kevin Gausman will trade in a potential All-Star Game start in hopes of helping the San Francisco Giants complete a strong first half when he gets the ball to take on the visiting Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.
The Giants prevailed in the first two games of the three-game series and, at 56-32 now, will finish with the best record in baseball at the All-Star break.
In an effort to add one more win, Giants manager Gabe Kapler scheduled Gausman (8-3, 1.74 ERA), who already had been named to the National League All-Star team, to start Sunday’s first-half finale, with the possibility of coming back in the second-half opener Friday at St. Louis.
Because of that, Gausman will not pitch Tuesday in Denver, having been replaced by Washington’s Max Scherzer on the active All-Star roster.
“I think if Gaus had his way, he’d pitch for us (Sunday), then pitch in the All-Star Game and be ready to pitch after the break,” Kapler insisted after Saturday’s win. “Obviously, pitchers are not built for that sort of workload, and we all understand the dynamic.”
The decision was not easy, Kapler said. This was the first All-Star selection for Gausman, 30.
“It’s a real honor to pitch in the All-Star Game, and it can be one of these players’ life highlights and important moments, and I personally take that really seriously,” Kapler said. “If we were lined up differently, I think it would work out well for him to have that opportunity.
“What I’ll say is it doesn’t take away from the honor and it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s one of the two or three best pitchers in the National League thus far. It certainly highlights and illuminates his accomplishments even though it’s not lined up for him to pitch in that game.”
Gausman will seek to end a personal two-game losing streak and avenge a 2-0 loss to the Nationals in Washington last month. He will be matched up for the second straight time with Nationals righty Erick Fedde (4-5, 4.53).
Gausman’s losing streak has come despite allowing just five runs in 12 innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, with his team scoring a combined four runs in those two games. He has gone 5-3 with a 5.18 ERA in 10 career games, including nine starts, against the Nationals.
One player Gausman will not see in the rematch is Washington slugger Kyle Schwarber, who led off the bottom of the first with a home run in the earlier meeting. Schwarber has missed the series with a strained hamstring.
Gausman also won’t have to deal with Scherzer, the Nationals’ ace who pitched Thursday in San Diego.
It would be fitting if the Washington veteran had an opportunity to shake his rival’s hand for making the All-Star Game opportunity available.
“You’re always so excited,” said Scherzer, an eight-time All-Star. “Whether it’s your first one or eighth one, it’s such an honor to be named an All-Star.”
Fedde pitched the first five innings of the 2-0 win over the Giants in Washington. He’s gone 2-0 with an 0.00 ERA in two career starts against San Francisco, having allowed 10 hits and no walks in 11 innings, with nine strikeouts. He has lost his form his past two times out, however, giving up 11 runs and 14 hits in 8 1/3 innings.
–Field Level Media