Ubaldo Jimenez becomes first pitcher since 2000 with 15 wins before the All-Star break

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Ubaldo Jimenez may not be the top pitcher of the first half, but by beating Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals yesterday he became the first pitcher with 15 wins before the All-Star break since 2000.
Jimenez held the Cardinals to one run in eight innings, bouncing back from three straight poor starts to improve to 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA that now ranks third in the league behind Josh Johnson (1.70) and Jaime Garcia (2.17).
I wrote last week about how unlikely Jimenez is to become the first 30-game winner since Denny McLain in 1968, but certainly at this point becoming the first 25-game winner since Bob Welch in 1990 is very possible. Of course, the last guy to have 15 wins by the All-Star break was David Wells in 2000 and he ended up with “only” 20 for the season (he also had a 4.11 ERA).
Incidentally, for as much as guys like me want to believe the baseball word has advanced past evaluating pitchers by win totals, I’d bet quite a bit on Jimenez getting the nod for the All-Star game over Josh Johnson despite an ERA that’s currently a half-run higher. Then again I also think Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum probably wouldn’t have won the (deserved) Cy Young awards with low win totals last season if another guy in either league had 20-plus wins.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.