WASHINGTON -- Outfielder Bryce Harper isn't the only member of the Nationals who is taking his talents to the Midsummer Classic. Right-hander Max Scherzer, one of the few players to have made as big a splash as Harper in the first half of the season, was selected by the players to be on the National League All-Star squad.
This will be Scherzer's third All-Star appearance, and his first as a member of the Nationals.
"It's awesome," Scherzer said. "It's one of the highest honors in the game to be selected for an All-Star Game. This is my third game. Every single one of them means something different. This one is very special."
Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with Washington last January, is clearly the ace of the team's pitching staff. He leads the Nationals in almost every pitching category including ERA (1.82), victories (nine), strikeouts (139) and batting average against (.181) -- but he's fully aware there's plenty of season still to go.
"The season is not over. I won't comment on rank -- my season comparatively what I've done," Scherzer said. "I have to go out and pitch and finish the season. We are only in the halfway point.
"I do feel like I'm a better pitcher than I was last year. I'm able to do more things this year. I'm able to have my pitches more consistent. I'm pounding the zone at a higher rate. That's the reason for my success."
One thing Scherzer is doing differently is completing games. Entering this season, he had only one complete game in his career. In three out of his last four starts this year, Scherzer has gone the distance.
"The only thing I've done differently is that I'm attacking the strike zone even more," Scherzer said. "Because I'm pounding the zone, the hitters are reacting to that and they are more aggressive earlier in the count. They are trying to put the ball in play earlier in the count. It's feeding itself, so I'm getting quicker outs. When you get quicker outs and you don't walk guys, then you are pitching deeper in the game. At the end of the day, it's the product of first-pitch strikes and working ahead quick in the count on a very consistent basis."
Scherzer was named the National League's Pitcher of the Month for June after a string of spectacular starts. It would have been difficult to top his start in Milwaukee on June 14, when he one-hit the Brewers with 16 strikeouts. But his next start on June 20 was even better. Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Nationals history in a 6-0 win over the Pirates. He was an out away from a perfect game before he hit outfielder Jose Tabata with a pitch.
The big question is whether Scherzer will get a chance to pitch in the All-Star Game, presented by T-Mobile. After Tuesday's start against the Reds, Scherzer's next scheduled start could be Sunday against the Orioles. The All-Star Game is two days after that. While Scherzer declined to talk about his pitching schedule, manager Matt Williams said the team's first priority is to win games.
"We'll see how he comes out of [Tuesday] and where it's at and what's going forward given the off-day [on Thursday]," Williams said. "Like we talked about, there are a lot of factors there. By the off-day, we will have a determination made."
Voting is open now at MLB.com to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until 4 p.m. ET on Friday.
And the voting doesn't end there. During the Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (7 p.m. ET air time, 8:15 first pitch), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.