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Which NL pitcher do you most want to see Daniel Vogelbach obliterate in the All-Star Game?

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if he keeps vogey on the bench all game alex cora is fucking cancelled

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As you may have heard, MLB did not let Daniel Vogelbach participate in the Home Run Derby, for reasons that have gone explicitly unstated but are implicitly loud and clear (cowardice).

On the heels of this national tragedy, a nation grieves. One man—nay—one hero, has the sole power to uplift us in these troubling times.

Who, you ask?

Yes, Daniel Vogelbach, you. It was you all along. It’s always been you.

While Vogey frustratingly remained sidelined for Monday’s Home Run Derby, he still stands a chance to leave his indelible impact on the All-Star festivities. To quote Matthew Roberson doing an impression of Alex Cora doing an impression of Lady Gaga, there can be 35 people in a dugout and 34 don’t believe in you, but all it takes is one to change everything. Alex, please, we’re begging you, be that person who believes in Vogey.

Should the Red Sox manager insert Vogelbach into the All-Star Game, our sweet sun-kissed son will have to earn his keep against the best pitchers the National League has to offer. That is, after all, how All-Star Games work. Seeing Vogelbach crack a baseball into the stratosphere, as we’ve become accustomed to, would be both a welcome and difficult task, it would just have to come at the expense of some poor sucker from the senior circuit.

In looking at the National League’s assortment of pitchers, there are the traditional big market stars like deGrom and Buehler, as well as some guys who might have just snuck on a plane to Cleveland. (Quick! What team does Sandy Alcántara play for? Is Brandon Woodruff an MLB All-Star or that kid from your high school who would steal teachers’ answer keys and sell them out the trunk of his car?) When trying to find a candidate to serve Vogelbach the juiciest dinger, though, a few names stand out above the rest.

Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers

As Kershaw adds an eighth All-Star appearance to his three Cy Youngs, five ERA crowns, and the 2014 NL MVP, he has a chance to add another milestone to his illustrious career: facing Daniel Vogelbach. Best left-handed pitcher of a generation, meet the best left-handed hitter of a generation.

Vogey has had his struggles against southpaws this season, as the big man’s 69 at-bats vs. left-handed pitchers have been far from nice (.130/.231/.232 with 20 strikeouts). If there is a clear area for improvement in the second half of the season, it would be handling stuff low in the zone from lefties.

Vogelbach strikeouts by zone against left-handed pitchers / Photo courtesy of Baseball Savant

Specifically against left-handed curve balls though, a pitch type that Kershaw has arguably mastered better than any person in recorded human history, Vogelbach has largely held his own. According to Baseball Savant, 40 left-handed curves have bent Vogey’s way this season. Always the plate disciplinarian, our newest All-Star has allowed 25 of them to go for balls. He has also whiffed on 12.5% of them while putting just one in play, although it did go for a hit.

Vogelbach vs. left-handed curve balls / Photo courtesy of Baseball Savant

Should Clayton Kershaw spin his trademark pitch toward Vogelbach in the All-Star Game, trust there will be more than one hit. Vogelbach hitting the ball, the ball hitting the seats, Kershaw hitting the showers, and me hitting play on “Ante Up” while excitingly karate kicking everything in sight.

I also can’t think of many better confidence boosters than taking Clayton Kershaw deep in your first All-Star Game. Doing so would not only make Vogelbach the first person to ever homer off Kersh in an All-Star Game, it could also theoretically do wonders for Vogey’s approach to lefties moving forward.

Luis Castillo - Cincinnati Reds

The best ERA in the National League belongs to the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, whose eye-popping 1.73 mark earned him the starting nod in Tuesday’s game. A great deal of Ryu’s success comes from flooding the zone, as the six-year veteran has allowed just 10 walks all season, the fewest of any qualified NL pitcher.

Cincinnati Reds v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The second best ERA (2.29) in the National League belongs to the Reds’ Luis Castillo, whose rise to stardom earned the 26-year-old his first All-Star selection. A great deal of Castillo’s success comes from embodying the concept of “effectively wild”, as Cincinnati’s ace has issued the second-most walks (53) of any qualified NL pitcher. Still, the changeup artist has held opposing hitters to a .168 average with his physics-defying stuff, 10.53 K/9, and blood offering to a wickedly powerful witch, probably.

In addition to being friends with Yasiel Puig, other fun things about Castillo include a great head of hair, being part of the esteemed fraternity of ex-Marlins, and possessing a fastball in the upper 90s. The thing about upper 90s fastballs is that they can quickly be turned into this. Castillo has done well to limit the long ball this year—he and Max Scherzer are the only two NL pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched and nine or less home runs allowed—so repeating something like this would be a true achievement.

People of Cleveland, please stay alert to Vogelbombs leaving the field. But also, if Vogelbach just like, works an eight-pitch walk against Castillo, as the numbers indicate could very well happen, that would also be extremely on-brand.

Felipe Vázquez - Pittsburgh Pirates

Photo courtesy of Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Vázquez, a terror wielding nightmare out of the Pirates’ bullpen, combines Kershaw’s handedness with Castillo’s electricity. The results are, frankly, disgusting.

Given his status as a relief pitcher, and Vogelbach’s status as a reserve, this matchup is perhaps more likely than the other two. As such, a Vogelbach vs. Vázquez showdown could possibly carry huge implications in this meaningless exhibition game. The All-Star Game has a rich history of unlikely heroes shining in clutch situations, after all.

Jeff Conine vs. Steve Ontiveros.

Hank Blalock vs. Eric Gagne.

J.D. Drew vs. Edinson Vólquez.

Jean Segura vs. Josh Hader.

Vogelbach vs. Vázquez has a nice, obscure, alliterative ring to it. Perfect for this wackadoo list.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day
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Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Mariners’ sub-optimal record has clouded this a bit, but Vogelbach has delivered time and time again in the late innings. The Florida fella has seven home runs in the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning this season. According to Baseball-Reference, six of his 21 taters have come in the seventh inning or later with the Mariners tied, ahead by one, or with the tying run at least on deck.

While doing so in the All-Star Game wouldn’t add to that total, it would give Vogelbach the Hollywood moment he deserves on the biggest stage of his ascendant career. If Vogey steps up in a high-leverage spot and launches a rocket halfway to Akron, not only would it introduce him to casual fans in the best way, it would be a wonderful accomplishment for the Mariners’ folk hero who’s proving to be much more than that.