White Sox left-hander Chris Sale was named to the American League All-Star team Monday. It will be his fourth consecutive appearance.
The announcement came as no surprise as the White Sox left-hander was preparing to become the first pitcher to record 10 or more strikeouts in nine consecutive games Monday night when the Sox host the Toronto Blue Jays and former Sox Mark Buehrle. Sale was the only Sox named to represent the American League team in Cincinnati next Tuesday.
Sale (6-4, 2.87 ERA), who joins left-hander Billy Pierce (1955-59) as the only White Sox pitchers to make at least four consecutive All-Star teams, is on pace to record a franchise-record 289 strikeouts, which would be the highest total since Arizona Diamondback Randy Johnson struck out 290 in 2004. He is averaging 12.28 strikeouts per nine innings.
Sale is a candidate to be named the starting pitcher for the AL. He has pitched in three All-Star games, all in relief, allowing one run in one inning at the 2014 game after pitching a scoreless inning in 2012 and two perfect ininnings 2013, when he was the winning pitcher.
“He definitely deserves to start the All-Star Game,” Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista said before Monday’s game. “There are a couple other guys I feel the same way about. It will be a tough decision for the manager [Ned Yost].”
Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros and Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays are also considered candidates to be the AL starting pitcher, who won’t be named till next week.
Sale is in line to pitch against the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field. That would give him two days rest, which is considered enough for a one- or two-inning All-Star Game appearance.
Sale is 4-3 with a 1.78 ERA with only 12 walks and 115 strikeouts over his last 10 starts covering 76 innings.
He leads the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (12.28), is tied for the lead in strikeouts and ranks among the AL leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio (second, 6.41), quality starts (tie for second, 12), WHIP (third, 0.97) and ERA (9th).