American League manager Dusty Baker named the 32-year-old Cole, a six-time All-Star, to face Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen, who will start the game Tuesday night at T-Mobile Park in his first appearance.
With rosters decimated by injuries and absences — those missing include reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, expected AL starter Shane McClanahan, Yordan Alvarez and Clayton Kershaw — the lineups and starters nevertheless illustrated the wide array of talent playing today.
Gallen will be backed by NL MVP favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. hitting leadoff, followed by Los Angeles Dodgers Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado will hit fifth, with Miami’s Luis Arraez — flirting with a .400 batting average — in the No. 6 hole. Atlanta catcher Sean Murphy, Arizona rookie Corbin Carroll and Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia round out the lineup from Rob Thomson, the Philadelphia manager.
The AL lineup includes the biggest star in the game, Shohei Ohtani, who will bat second after leadoff hitter Marcus Semien but will not pitch due to a blister on his right middle finger. Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena will hit third and teammate Yandy Diaz fifth, with Texas shortstop Corey Seager in between in the cleanup spot. The remainder of the lineup includes Baltimore outfielder Austin Hays hitting seventh and three more Rangers: outfielder Adolis Garcia (sixth), rookie third baseman Josh Jung (eighth) and catcher Jonah Heim (ninth).
“Sounds like a winner,” Baker said.
The AL team has done nothing but win over the past decade, last losing an All-Star Game in 2012. And Cole was happy to carry the mantel of continuing that streak, even though the All-Star Game no longer counts for home-field advantage in the World Series.
“It’s just always something that I’ve wanted to do,” Cole said. “I feel like I’m physically able to do it. I got an opportunity. I’m thankful Dusty selected me.”
Said Baker: “If a guy like Gerrit Cole wants to pitch, I’ll let him pitch.”
Gallen was informed earlier in the week that he would start for the NL, whose pitching will be missing Kershaw, potential starter Spencer Strider and Marcus Stroman. While Gallen separated himself from the other options, figuring out the lineup wasn’t so easy for Thomson.
“We didn’t know what to do,” he said.
What Thomson could do during the game, he said, is feature an all-Braves infield, with first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Ozzie Albies and third baseman Austin Riley all available to join Arcia.
“There could be a chance,” Thomson said, “we have an all-Braves infield.”