For the first time since 1960, the Pirates will be sending two starting pitchers to the All-Star Game. Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett will join Andrew McCutchen and Mark Melancon in Cincinnati.
It is the first All-Star selection for both Cole and Burnett, who have combined for a 19-6 record in 215 2/3 innings pitched. They've struck out 203, while posting a combined 2.17 ERA.
Burnett's selection adds another chapter to his storybook stay in Pittsburgh. His career 3.12 ERA with the Pirates is more than a half of run less than his ERA with any other team for whom he has played. Burnett's success this year is grounded in both a low walk and home run rate. He is on pace to have the best strike out-to-walk ratio of his career (3.33) and his three home runs allowed is the fewest among qualified starters.
When the Pirates signed the 38 year old before this season, many — me included — doubted he'd rediscover the form he had with the team in 2012 and 2013. Indeed, ZiPS projected him for a very pedestrian 3.93. But halfway through the season he has the third best ERA amongst qualified starters, and is a big reason that the Pirates are pointed squarely in the direction of the postseason again this season.
Cole is quickly turning into a bonafide ace, and it is not hard to imagine that this is likely the first of many All-Star appearances for him. Cole's leads the league with 12 wins and his 14 quality starts ties him with Clayton Kershaw and Jordan Zimmerman for second most in baseball.
Mark Melancon is heading to his second All-Star Game. After a very shaky start to the season, he has been nothing short of remarkable since mid-May. He hasn't allowed an earned run in any of his last 25 appearances and he has converted 25 straight save opportunities.
This is the fifth consecutive time that McCutchen has been named to the All-Star team. He the first Pirates position player to be named to five straight Midsummer Classics since Roberto Clemente was selected to eight consecutive. Like Melancon, McCutchen got off to a slow start this season leading him to complain of being tired of going "0-for-freakin'-4" every night. Since voicing his displeasure with his performance, McCutchen is batting .351/.442/.588 in 233 plate appearances.