If you’re like me, you were ready for a break after
being tortured night in and night out watching the Phillies the tumultuous first half of the Phillies season. Nothing cures the anxiety that comes with a .500 team still in the playoff hunt like the All-star Break and taking in the All-star exhibition.
The Phillies had two selections to the Midsummer classic: The BCIB (Best Catcher in Baseball. If ya don’t know, now ya know) JT Realmuto, and the New Ace in Town (no cool acronym, yet) Zack Wheeler. They did not have the opportunity to be battery mates during the ASG in 2021 do the disappointment of Phillies fans everywhere. The last time the team representing Philly had two All-stars in the same season was 2013, and we were blessed with this moment:
Although we didn’t get any funny moments from this year’s duo, fans of the Phils were hoping for some excitement from their all-stars. Selfishly, I don’t know if anything can match my favorite moment from the All-star game from a Phillie: Brad Lidge blowing the save in 2008. You might be thinking: “Why would you be happy about Lidge doing poorly?” Because if the N.L. won that game, they would’ve won home field advantage in the World Series. Because they started on the road, the Phillies were able to win the Fall Classic in game five in front of a raucous Citizens Bank Park crowd that I happened to be a part of. So thank you, Brad Lidge. But I digress. Now, let’s see how the BCIB and NAIT fared.
Realmuto is the best all-around catcher in baseball. There is no doubt about it. So when he was voted into the game by the players, there was no surprise. This was Realmuto’s third straight all-star selection, second with the Phillies. In his previous appearances, JT was a combined 0-2 at the plate, with two walks, one run, and one strikeout.
The BCIB had the pleasure of starting this year’s game and catching Max Scherzer to start the night off. He played five innings and caught the following pitchers:
- Max Scherzer (Nationals, 1 IP, 1 K)
- Corbin Burnes (Brewers, 2 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)
- German Marquez (Rockies, 1 IP, 1 K)
- Trevor Rogers (Marlins, 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 K)
Realmuto did not leave this game without making his mark. He finished 1-2 with an oppo-boppo off of Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers to open up the scoring the National League. He became the first Phillies player to hit a HR in the All-star game in 40 years (Mike Schmidt, 1981). Per Jayson Stark, he is the first Phillies catcher ever to hit a homer in the ASG.
For all of the expectations around Zack Wheeler during his time with the New York Mets, this year was Wheels’ first All-star selection. And boy did he deserve it. Depending on where you look and your favorite advanced metric, Wheeler may have been the best pitcher in the NL in the first half. Leading the league in innings pitched and bWAR, and of course leading the way for the Phillies rotation, Zack has been worth every penny of the big contract the Phillies signed him to prior to the 2020 season. The entire league is taking notice of Wheeler. Competing with Jacob deGrom for the Cy Young might be tough, but he’s kept it close enough to make a legitimate argument.
Zack Wheeler didn’t make an appearance until late in the game. He entered in the 9th with two outs and a man on third, with the Senior Circuit down 5-2. Zack faced Matt Olson, striking him out on only three pitches. pumping two fastballs at 100 MPH, and putting him away with a slider.
Unfortunately, the National League couldn’t muster a comeback, despite getting two hits in the 9th. Liam Hendriks shut the door, and the AL won 5-2.
Realmuto made sure his impact was heard, and Wheeler made quick work of his assignment. Both of these men earned their spots and the next two days off. The Phillies are hoping they can carry their momentum into a second half surge.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire