Setup man Scheppers set for Final Vote battle
Fans can help Rangers' workhorse reliever make first All-Star team
ARLINGTON -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland wants an extra proven reliever on the American League All-Star team, and it could be Rangers right-hander Tanner Scheppers.
Scheppers is one of five relievers up for the Final Vote and the last spot on the AL squad for the 84th All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field.
Scheppers is competing against Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers, Koji Uehara of the Red Sox, Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays and David Robertson of the Yankees. Scheppers is trying to be the second straight Rangers player to win the Final Vote, as Yu Darvish won it in 2012.
"It's definitely an honor to be mentioned with some of these guys," Scheppers said. "It would be a dream come true to be selected. It's something you dream of as a kid, to play in that game with all the best players. I hope I get the opportunity."
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and ends Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 12-26. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 12 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Scheppers, simply text message A4 to 89269. In Canada, fans should text A4 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply.
"It's an honor already for him, win or lose," said closer Joe Nathan, who along with Darvish and Nelson Cruz were named to the AL All-Star team. "He should take it as that. Obviously he's got some work to do to get in. Maybe he'll get some help on Twitter and social media. Maybe Yu Darvish will give him a shoutout in Japan. It's an honor either way for all five of those guys."
Scheppers, the Rangers' eighth-inning setup reliever, went into Saturday's game with a record of 5-1 and a 1.48 ERA that was the eighth lowest among relievers with at least 30 appearances. Opponents were also hitting .195 off him. He did struggle in Saturday's 9-5 loss to Houston, allowing three of the four batters he faced to reach, including a two-run homer.
Scheppers is in his first full season in the Major Leagues, and this would be his first All-Star appearance. The Rangers took him with the 44th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. He was pitching for the St. Paul Saints of the American Association at the time, but played collegiately at Fresno State.
Nathan has already been named to the All-Star team, but Scheppers would be the first Rangers setup reliever since Jeff Zimmerman in 1999 to become an All-Star. The only other one was Jim Kern, who was Texas' primary setup reliever in front of Sparky Lyle in 1979, even though he eventually led the team in saves that year.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.