Tony La Russa officially named Matt Cain his All-Star starter at this afternoon’s press conference and also unveiled the National League lineup, with Carlos Gonzalez as the designated hitter/leadoff man and the past two MVPs, Ryan Braun and Joey Votto, batting third and fourth:
1. Carlos Gonzalez, DH
2. Melky Cabrera, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Joey Votto, 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, RF
6. Buster Posey, C
7. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
8. Dan Uggla, 2B
9. Rafael Furcal, SS
Unlike the other eight starters Gonzalez wasn’t voted in by the fans, but because the NL ballot didn’t include a designated hitter choice the spot was left to La Russa’s preference. It’s not often you see a leadoff man with a .578 slugging percentage, but Gonzalez has hit leadoff in a regular season game 107 times in his career, including 33 times last season.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.