Earlier, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge more or less cemented what we already knew: that he doesn’t have any interest in defending his Home Run Derby title in July when the All-Star festivities are held at Nationals Park. It sounds like Red Sox outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are on the same anti-Derby page.
When asked if he had any interested in participating in the Derby, Betts said (via Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe), “Hell no. I don’t hit home runs in BP. Can you imagine me going against Aaron Judge?” Betts was told Judge won’t be participating, then asked if that changed his mind. He said, “Hell no. I’m not that kind of hitter.”
Martinez won’t participate but for a different reason. He’s still upset he was passed over for inclusion in the Derby in 2015. Martinez said, “MLB didn’t want me. I figured I’d have the option of doing it and they said no. They had other guys they wanted, all these young guys. I was like, ‘Forget it. I’ll never do it.'”
Betts and Martinez have been two of baseball’s best hitters thus far. Betts entered Wednesday’s action batting .368/.439/.772 with an MLB-best 16 home runs along with 35 RBI, 49 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. Martinez is hitting .343/.399/.674 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.