How many all-stars will the Pittsburgh Pirates have?

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The 2015 MLB-All Star Game is set to take place on Tuesday, July 14th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Pittsburgh Pirates will no doubt have multiple representatives at the game. After all, the Pirates currently are tied for the third-best record in all of baseball at 39-28. The National League isn’t like the American League this year, in that every starting position isn’t going to be from one team (i.e. the Kansas City Royals). There are opportunities for certain players to start for the Pirates, but they are most likely long shots. Here is the latest update for the NL all-star balloting:

Andrew McCutchen has an outside shot to start for the National League, but he’ll need to make up about 800,000 votes to break the top three. Matt Holliday will probably make the game but be replaced due to injury, so he may just need to catch one of Giancarlo Stanton or Nori Aoki. Starling Marte is 15th overall, so his chances at making the all-star game will rely on manager Bruch Bochy selecting him. And Francisco Cervelli moved up to third in voting among catchers, but considering only one catcher starts at the game, it will be a near impossible task to make up more than three million votes and make it as the starting catcher.

But the Pirates will also have pitchers make the all-star game that will be selected by Bruch Bochy. How many players, in total, will Pittsburgh have? Here are our candidates for the team.

Locks:

Gerrit Cole (11-2, 1.78 ERA)

Gerrit Cole has been the ace of the Pirates’ rotation this season, and he’s just about made that leap to becoming an ace for years to come. Last season, 19 NL pitchers were selected to the game, with one (Henderson Alvarez) being an injury replacement, and 12 of those were starters (11 if whom were on the active roster). So, Cole will need to finish as one of the 11 best starting pitchers in the National League (give or take one or two), according to manager Bruch Bochy, in order to make the game.

He ranks among the top 11 in ERA (first), wins (first), strikeouts (sixth), and WAR (seventh), but ranks just outside the top 11 in WHIP (12th). Wins, strikeouts, and ERA all jump out as the primary reasons for selection to most managers for the all-star game. so expect Cole to hear his name selected to the game, and to potentially start if he keeps pitching the way he has so far this season.

A.J. Burnett (6-3, 2.05 ERA)

A.J. Burnett had arguably one of his worst starts of the season against the Washington Nationals on Friday night, giving up three runs on 14 hits over 6.2 innings. Yes, he gave up a career-high in hits, but he still only allowed three runs; the 4-1 outcome could have been much worse. And if that’s what we’re going to see this year as a “bad start” from Burnett, who’s only given up three or more runs in three out of his 14 starts and never more than four earned runs, we can expect him to maintain a high level of play up until the all-star game.

Burnett currently sits in the top 11 in ERA (2.05) and WAR (2.6), just outside the top 11 in wins (tied for 12th), and a little further down in strikeouts (18th) and WHIP (19th). But his story as a veteran pitching in his last season having never made an all-star game before may carry some weight as well, right or not, to Bruce Bochy. Burnett should still make the all-star game despite his recent start.

Andrew McCutchen (.289/.370/.471)

McCutchen is still the face of the Pirates’ franchise, and the fact that he currently sits at fourth among all outfielders in voting speaks to how much fans across the country love him and his play, even if he isn’t truly the fourth best outfielder in the NL (he may very well be, however). In 2014, six outfielders made the NL all-star team. Do Cutch’s stats put him in the top six among all NL outfielders?

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He ranks in the top six in on-base percentage (sixth), OPS (fifth), WAR (sixth), RBIs (sixth), and doubles (tied for first). But he falls outside of that top six in average (eighth), slugging percentage (eighth), home runs (tied for 12th), walks (10th), and stolen bases (tied for 31st). So, for many of the major statistics that people use to analyze batters, McCutchen ranks in the top six among NL outfielders. And his batting average, slugging percentage, and home runs rank just outside of that. His name should carry enough weight, along with his above average stats this year, to get him into the all-star game.

Maybes:

Mark Melancon (23 saves, 1.87 ERA)

Mark Melancon has turned around his poor star to the year to become his usual dominant self. His velocity hasn’t completely returned to where it’s been in year’s past, but he’s never relied solely on velocity to get outs as a closer. Last year, seven relievers made the all-star game for the NL. He has the most saves in National League with 23, and he’s only blown one save this season. His sub-two ERA keeps dropping, but his WAR value of 0.9 puts him a little farther back among relievers. His WHIP of 0.98 puts him among the best for relief pitchers in the NL.

Melancon made the all-star team in 2013, and he’s the closer for a playoff contender in the NL. He has a good shot to make the team if he keeps pitching like he has as of late.

Tony Watson (17 holds, 1.78 ERA)

Tony Watson has been a fantastic compliment to Melancon at the back-end of the bullpen this season. He’s proving that neither of the last two seasons were a fluke, and he’s one of the best setup man in all of baseball. His ERA of 1.78 and his WHIP of 0.93 put him among the best relievers in baseball and should carry weight for him. He also had a string of 17 appearances this season in which he didn’t yield a run, including a spotless month of May. However, he’s given up runs in three out of his eight most recent outings. If he can put a stop to his recent “skid,” he could have a shot at the all-star team for the NL. He made the team in 2014, so he has name recognition among NL relievers.

Francisco Cervelli (.316/.395/.407)

Francisco Cervelli has been a spark plug for the Pirates this season, contributing both offensively and defensively as an adequate replacement for Russell Martin. He’s on pace for the best season of the his career, already surpassing his career-high in WAR with a 1.4 value this season. Cervelli ranks first among all NL catchers in batting average and first in on-base percentage. He has also been the best pitch framer in all of baseball this year, according to StatCorner, with 11.9 defensive runs saved. Last year, four catchers made the NL all-star team. He currently ranks third in voting for catchers in the NL, but he’ll have some stiff competition for the team even if he is deserving, having to compete with Bochy’s own Buster Posey, as well as Yadier Molina, and Miguel Montero, among others.

And if that’s what we’re going to see this year as a “bad start” from Burnett, who’s only given up three or more runs in three out of his 14 starts and never more than four earned runs, we can expect him to maintain a high level of play up until the all-star game.

Starling Marte (.281/.328/.474)

Starling Marte will also prove to be an interesting case for Bruce Bochy. He’s been hot as of late, batting .452 over the last seven days and .324 during the month of June. If he remains hot, he could put himself in the discussion for selection. But right now, his numbers probably don’t justify his making the all-star team as one of the six best outfielders in the NL. Among NL outfielders, he ranks eighth in WAR, 12th in average, and 18th in OBP. But he does rank sixth in slugging, sixth in home runs, and third in RBIs, and his power numbers could catch the eye of manager Bruce Bochy.

Long-shots:

Francisco Liriano (4-5, 2.94 ERA)

Francisco Liriano is an interesting case for the all-star selection committee (i.e. Bruce Bochy). His peripheral numbers don’t put him among the best 11 starting pitchers in the National League. His ERA is 23rd in the NL, his WAR is 36th, and his four wins are tied for 64th. He’s not making the all-star team with just those numbers alone.

But his WHIP is good for seventh in the NL, his strikeouts, eighth, his K/9, sixth, and opponents are only batting .176 against him, good for first in all of baseball. So, Liriano has an outside shot to make the game if Bochy looks at a bit deeper into the stats. We broke down Liriano’s chances to make the team here, so check that out for an in-depth look.

Liriano has a shot at the team. There’s still over a month until the all-star game, so all of the players on this list have somewhat of a shot. All of them most likely won’t make it, and it will be tough for Bochy to take five Pirate pitchers. In 2013, five Pittsburgh Pirates made the team, and in 2014, three did. Pittsburgh will be well-represented in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, no matter what of these players make the team.

Next: Pittsburgh Pirates, Burnett fall to Nationals 4-1

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