With recent All-Star roster shuffles, Ryan Pressly and Michael Brantley have backed out from the 2021 Game. Pressly, who will be on paternity leave, and Brantley, who will be nursing a side injury, were the final two representatives for the Houston Astros.
These two were not members of the 2017 cheating scandal but have joined Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve in opting out of the exhibition game due to their respective situations. Whit Merrifield, Tim Anderson, Chris Bassitt and Joey Wendle have replaced the four Houston stars.
With Bassitt scheduled to pitch on Sunday, it would make him ineligible to play in the All-Star Game. This leaves another roster spot open, while other players could opt out in the meantime. If somehow selected, Yordan Alvarez would most likely stay at home with his newborn. Yuli Gurriel would have a hard stance with three first baseman already on the roster, so that leaves a chance for Luis Garcia, who could easily replace Bassitt.
With Chris Bassitt scheduled to start on Sunday, could Luis Garcia replace him?
Bassitt has posted a 3.41 ERA over 111 innings this season, as he has also struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings. Comparing that to Garcia, who is in his first ever full season, the right-hander has a 3.06 ERA over 85.1 innings this season, which comes with restricted pitch counts and limited starts. Correa has also pointed to Garcia as an option for the Mid-Summer Classic.
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Garcia never pitched past High-A before being called up in 2020, and after being eyed as a reliever, he has become an effective starter. With a 10.2 strikeout per nine, the right-hander has retooled his arsenal and flown under the national radar with his ability.
With the Oakland A’s sitting closely behind the Astros, it would behoove them to start Bassitt against the Texas Rangers on Sunday. But if the team chooses to scratch him, he will be headed to Colorado. Garcia hasn’t pitched since July 7; giving him adequate time to pitch on Tuesday at Coors Field.
At the moment, the Astros don’t have a representative, but if Bassitt starts on Sunday, Garcia should be thought of as his replacement. Teams are required at least one representative, but with all four opting out due to personal reasons, MLB doesn’t have to replace any Astro with another Astro.
Fans have shown their displeasure with the Astros opting out of an exhibition game. Playing in the game means absolutely nothing; the accolade is what everyone cares about. There is no reason to be bent out of shape that a reserve, which wasn’t selected by the fans, chooses not to play.