- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2015

When the final fan votes for the All-Star Game were tallied on Sunday, Bryce Harper came out on top in the National League, garnering nearly 14 million votes and breaking the NL record for votes received.

One day later, the Washington Nationals announced what the entire baseball world was already expecting: Max Scherzer will accompany Harper to Cincinnati.

“It’s awesome. It’s one of the highest honors in the game to be selected to play in an All-Star Game, and this is my third game,” said Scherzer, who was voted an all-star by players from around the league. “Every single one of them means something different, and this one’s very special.”

Fans will likely be disappointed to learn that the list of Washington players currently slated to appear in all-star festivities ends with Harper and Scherzer. Drew Storen, whose 25 saves entering Monday’s game ranked second in the NL, did not make the team despite his strong resume. Additionally, Harper made an announcement Monday that will only exacerbate the feeling.

“I’m not doing the Derby,” Harper said. “It’s a great event, and a lot of people have been looking forward to me hopefully being in it. I appreciate the MLB asking me and [NL captain Todd] Frazier asking me, but definitely going to pass on it this year.”



The 22-year old, who will be making his third All-Star Game appearance, gave a few reasons why. His father, Ron, pitched to him when he represented the NL in the Home Run Derby in 2013 but would not have been available this year because is recovering from a torn rotator cuff.

“Me not having my dad throw with me — it’s a huge issue for me,” Harper said. “Being comfortable on a stage like that with somebody that I know can throw strikes for me, knows where my sweet spot’s at, that’s huge for me.”

July 14 will mark Scherzer’s third consecutive all-star appearance but his first as a representative of the National League. Scherzer was first named an all-star in 2013, when he also earned the American League Cy Young Award.

After a dominant first half, the 30-year-old is a candidate to win the NL Cy Young Award, but he knows he’s got a long way to go. The second half of the season could be more taxing.

“Everybody’s getting their first look at me, and kind of the things I’ve done,” Scherzer said. “I’m sure they’ll make adjustments throughout the rest of the year and that’s why it’s going to be a difficult challenge for me.”

Still, Scherzer is having a remarkable season. On June 20, the right-hander became the first major league pitcher since 1944 to throw a one-hitter and follow it with a no-hitter. He was also just one pitch away from a perfect game, and there is still debate as to whether Jose Tabata leaned into the pitch that spoiled Scherzer’s bid for perfection.

The Missouri native is sporting a minuscule 1.82 ERA, good for second in the NL. His nine wins rank third, and his 139 strikeouts rank fifth. Scherzer ranks near the top of every pitching category, and if he has a counterpart from the plate, it’s Harper.

Entering Monday’s game, Harper’s .347 batting average and 25 home runs each ranked second in the NL, while his 60 RBI were third.

Hitting and pitching are two entirely different arts, but Scherzer believes Harper’s stellar season has helped him beyond just run support and making plays in the outfield.

“Look, Bryce competes. He competes as hard as he can and I feed off that,” Scherzer said. “For me, it pumps me up when I have guys like that behind me that want to compete. It’s no fluke for me to see him hit home runs every time I feel like I go out and pitch. I feel like that’s the reason we’ve been able to win ballgames when I go out there.”

For Harper, the feeling is mutual.

“He’s got that mentality out there that you want a guy to have out there,” Harper said. “He really gets me locked in every single day. We have our little conversations about other pitchers and other teams and what not. It’s just exciting and fun to watch. I’m glad he’s on our side.”

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