Zack Greinke and Dallas Keuchel named All-Star starters

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All-Star managers Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost have chosen their starting pitchers, with right-hander Zack Greinke of the Dodgers getting the assignment for the National League and left-hander Dallas Keuchel of the Astros being the pick for the American League.

Greinke’s excellence is well known. He’s a three-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner who currently has a 35.2-inning scoreless streak and an MLB-best 1.39 ERA that’s the lowest by any starting pitcher at the All-Star break since 1968.

The other starting pitchers on the NL roster are Madison Bumgarner, A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Shelby Miller, Max Scherzer, and Michael Wacha.

Keuchel is a great story. He was never considered a top prospect, had a losing record with a 3.74 ERA in the minors, and went 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA for the Astros in 2012 and 2013. Then last season he took a huge step forward, throwing 200 innings with a 2.93 ERA, and Keuchel has been even better this season with an 11-4 record and 2.23 ERA in a league-high 137 innings.

The other starting pitchers on the AL roster are Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Chris Sale, and Hector Santiago.

Last year’s All-Star starters were Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals for the National League and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners for the American League.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on it as precedent. Finally, it should be noted that in issuing this statement, the Astros have given at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech, which seems less-than-ideal at best.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?