PHOENIX — Pitching has again become the dominant force in baseball over the past couple of years, the hitters not standing much of a chance against all those arms.
With so many good pitchers out there, the managers for today's All-Star game almost couldn't go wrong.
They certainly won't get many complaints for choosing Philadelphia Phillies ace of aces Roy Halladay and Los Angeles Angels star Jered Weaver.
In an All-Star game missing some of its luster, these two reluctant, go-about-their-business studs seem like a perfect fit.
"When you talk about the great pitchers in our game today, the elite pitchers, or a pitcher that you would want to start in a game that you would have to win, Roy's name is always at the top of the list with just the incredible career that he's had," said San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, skipper of the NL team. "He's doing it again this year. This was really an easy one for me that he would start this game."
Picking Weaver wasn't exactly a tough decision for AL manager Ron Washington.
The lanky right-hander is having a superb season with an 11-4 record and a majors-best 1.86 ERA, but also had some of his competition for the starting nod get knocked out of the picture.
Major League Baseball doesn't allow pitchers who started on Sunday to participate in the Midsummer Classic, which meant Detroit's Justin Verlander, Seattle's Felix Hernandez, Tampa Bay's James Shields and the Yankees' CC Sabathia were ineligible.
Still, the numbers Weaver has put up would have made him a strong candidate regardless of who the competition was.
The 29-year-old was an All-Star last season and has been even better this year, posting the lowest ERA ever by an Angels starter before the break.
Weaver has lasted at least seven innings during a nine-game stretch without a loss while winning five straight and has thrown four of his eight career complete games this season to become the first Angels pitcher to start an All-Star game since Mark Langston in 1993.
"I've never competed against a more competitive pitcher and a pitcher that will do anything it takes to make sure that he keeps his team in the ballgame," AL and Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Weaver is making his second appearance, but Halladay, one of the best pitchers of a generation, has made a habit of playing in the Midsummer Classic.
A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Halladay has made the All-Star team eight of the past nine years and will join Vida Blue, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to start the game for both leagues after doing it with Toronto in 2009.
Even on a Phillies staff that includes Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, Halladay has established himself as The Man, a dominating pitcher with no-hitter-in-the-waiting stuff.
The 34-year-old threw the second no-hitter in postseason history — with Don Larsen — in his first career playoff game against Cincinnati in last season's NL division series and has been nearly as dominant the first half of this season.
Halladay is 11-3 this season with a 2.45 ERA and 138 strikeouts, second-best in the NL. He became the first pitcher since 1991 to open a game with 18 strikes against the Mets on April 30, a start after matching his career high with 14 strikeouts against San Diego.
"You've got to be good, you've got to be having a good season and he's the best in the game, so if anybody's deserving of that (starting), it's him," said Lee, who joined Halladay on the NL team. "There's a few guys that were worthy of that spot, but I think Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball and I think 99 percent of the people in here would agree with that. It's an honor for him and I expect him to give us a chance to win."