MILWAUKEE --Felipe Vazquez was so busy helping spearhead Josh Bell’s All-Star Game campaign that he hadn’t thought much about his own chances of being selected to the Midsummer Classic.
Bell narrowly lost to the Braves’ Freddie Freeman in the balloting for National League starting first baseman on Thursday. However, Bell figures to be a lock to be on the NL team when the pitching staffs and reserves are announced Sunday by Major League Baseball.
Vazquez could very well join Bell on the NL squad at Progressive Field in Cleveland on July 9. He was selected to the game last season and has very strong credentials this year.
“It’s out of my hands,” Vazquez told me before the Pirates and Brewers were to meet Saturday night in the second game of a three-game series at Miller Park. “I can’t vote for myself. We’ll see what happens. I would like to go. I had fun last year in Washington.”
Vazquez and Joe Musgrove shot a promotional video for the Pirates earlier this month in which they were depicted campaigning for Bell on the streets of Pittsburgh with a bullhorn and placards. Like many Pirates players, Vazquez made a big push for Bell on social media.
Vazquez has 19 saves, tying him for the fourth in the NL with the Brewers’ Josh Hader. The three closers ahead of Vazquez are the Padres’ Kirby Yates (27), the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen (23) and the Giants’ Will Smith (21).
Vazquez has blown only one save opportunity while compiling a 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He also has 55 strikeouts in 35 innings while walking just nine.
Clint Hurdle knows how hard it can be to fill out an All-Star Game roster. He was the NL manager in 2008, a year after leading the Rockies to the World Series.
“Felipe is one of the best closers in baseball,” Hurdle said. “How that fits in the rest of the relievers in the National League this year, we’ll see. He certainly deserves to be there but every year there is always an All-Star team within an All-Star team that gets left out.”
Meanwhile, Bell is leading the major leagues with 70 RBIs. He is also hitting .307/.379/.637 with 22 home runs in 79 games.
Though Bell lost to Freeman in the voting, there is still a good chance he could wind up starting for the NL as the designated hitter.