Is Jered Weaver emerging as the favorite to start the July 12 All-Star Game for the American League?
Weaver has plenty of factors in his favor. He's second in the league in ERA (1.97), third in WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), second in innings (123 1/3) and fourth in strikeouts (106). Just as important, the guy who leads in a lot of those categories, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, is in line to pitch the Sunday before the game. If he does, he is prohibited from pitching in the All-Star Game.
Weaver was in the same boat a year ago, when he attended the All-Star festivities in Anaheim but didn't pitch.
One member of the Angels staff is lobbying for Weaver. Dan Haren started the 2007 game in San Francisco and also pitched in relief when the game was held in St. Louis and New York.
"I told him yesterday in the outfield, the one I started was the best one because you get it over with and then you can enjoy the last seven innings from the dugout," Haren said. "The other times I came out of the bullpen and you've got all the stress throughout the game. Those innings are as stressful as playoff innings.
"You're in the bullpen, so far away from it, then the phone rings and you wonder, 'Oh, it's me?' Then, it's not you and then you see how the game's going and you're like, 'Oh, it's probably me,' then it's you. Plus, it takes a long time to warm up. The one in St. Louis, I could never get loose."
Weaver's normal day to start happens to fall on the Tuesday of the All-Star Game, then he likely will pitch the following Sunday for the Angels in Oakland.
"If Verlander doesn't go, then he should start," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "He's been pitching his butt off the last two years and become of the top pitchers in the game."
Haren, who ranks 13th in the AL in ERA and 10th in WHIP, isn't as optimistic about his chances of pitching in a fourth All-Star game. Weaver could be the Angels' lone representative, though Howie Kendrick has a chance.
"So many pitchers deserve to go. I could rattle off 10 off the top of my head," Haren said. "I'll be watching probably."