Zach Eflin, Phillies Call Out All-Star Game after Zack Wheeler Snub

DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 13: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field on July 13, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 13: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field on July 13, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin wasn’t happy with how Zack Wheeler was treated during the All-Star Game.

Zack Wheeler has been the Philadelphia Phillies‘ ace all season long.

Beyond that, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. If he wasn’t in the same league as Jacob deGrom, Wheeler would be in the conversation for this year’s NL Cy Young Award. He’ll likely still get votes when the time comes.

Overall among qualified MLB pitchers, Wheeler ranks first in innings pitched, fifth in ERA, and third in strikeouts, just one behind Jacob deGrom and two behind Gerrit Cole. Among qualified National League pitchers, Wheeler is fourth in ERA, second in strikeouts, and tied for first in WAR.

So, understandably, his teammate and rotation-mate Zach Eflin was as appalled as most Phillies fans (and rational fans of other fan bases) that Wheeler not only wasn’t given the start for the NL team in this year’s All-Star Game, but wasn’t even sent out to the mound until there were two outs in the ninth.

Around the time Wheeler finally entered the game, Eflin tweeted:

And to add to the piping hot tea, the Phillies social team agreed, responding “cosign.” from the verified team account.

The Phillies also did some subtweeting of their own:

How does Zack Wheeler compare to Max Scherzer, who started the All-Star Game for the National League?

Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who is having one of the best seasons in MLB history, would have started the game for the NL side, but he opted not to play this year. Once he was out of the conversation, his former teammate, Wheeler, seemed like a logical replacement. After all, his numbers would indicate that he had earned the nod.

Instead, NL manager Dave Roberts opted to go with veteran ace Max Scherzer.

According to Stathead, Wheeler has Scherzer beat in innings pitched, games pitched, ERA, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, and strikeouts, to name a few metrics. Wheeler has faced more batters than Scherzer, but has allowed fewer home runs, and has hit fewer batters.

So, if Wheeler has Scherzer beat in actual pitching this season (which is not to say that Scherzer isn’t one of the greatest pitchers of the era, only that Wheeler has been better this year), what does Scherzer have that Wheeler doesn’t? A trophy case full of Cy Young Awards, a World Series ring, and name recognition. Oh, and the rumor that the Dodgers might try to convince the Nationals to trade him to them.

But the overlooking of Wheeler doesn’t stop there. After Scherzer pitched a scoreless first, Corbin Burnes was allowed to pitch two innings. He allowed two runs on four hits, walked a batter, and gave up a mammoth home run to Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Wheeler, who has out-pitched Burnes by the above metrics, watched from the dugout until there were two outs in the ninth inning, when he was given the equivalent of a pity appearance. He struck out the only batter he faced on three pitches. At that point, there was little for him to do, and the American League won again. The National League has not won the game since 2012.

Wheeler’s experience is a reminder that name recognition gets you far in this game. He’s having the best season of his career and one of the best seasons in the entire league, but because he’s not deGrom or Scherzer, and his team is considered mediocre, his actual hard work is not enough. Scherzer has been an All-Star every year since 2013, but this was Wheeler’s first, and he earned it more.

While the postseason is for the best teams, the All-Star Game is for the best players, especially the ones stuck on teams that might not have a shot at playing in October. It’s why every team gets at least one All-Star, even a team like the Pirates or Orioles, mired in the bottom of their respective divisions yet again. The Phillies may be a barely-.500 team, but Wheeler deserved the ultimate All-Star treatment.

The disrespect, indeed.

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