White Sox’ Lucas Giolito, All-Star starter? ‘I want to be in that game,’ he says

The best pitcher in Chicago this season — and it isn’t even close — plans to keep the pedal down for three more starts before rosters are announced June 30.

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Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox

Giolito is tied for the AL lead in victories, with nine.

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Twelve down, three to go.

One might say White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito is 80 percent there in his quest to become a first-time All-Star.

The best pitcher in Chicago this season — and it isn’t even close — has started a dozen games and is lined up for three more (against the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox) before All-Star rosters are announced June 30.

Of course, if the Midsummer Classic — scheduled for July 9 in Cleveland — were held today, there’s zero doubt Giolito, 24, would be taking his place along one of the Progressive Field baselines and doffing his cap.

‘‘It’s obviously a goal of mine to be an All-Star,’’ Giolito said, stretched out in the Sox’ dugout hours before their game Tuesday against the Nationals. ‘‘I want to be in that game.’’

Come to think of it, there is some doubt. If the game were today, Red Sox manager Alex Cora might have him in the bullpen, warming up to pitch the first inning.

‘‘Let’s not even go that far,’’ Giolito said.

But it could happen, couldn’t it? At 9-1, he’s tied with the Astros’ Justin Verlander and the Twins’ Jake Odorizzi (each of whom has made 13 starts) for the American League lead in victories. He’s third in the league in ERA (2.28) and WHIP (0.92). Keep the pedal down for three more starts, and Cora might face at least a difficult choice.

Bigger picture: Giolito is authoring a comeback season like few the game has seen. Does that sound like a stretch? It’s not. In 2018, he had the highest WHIP (1.48) in the majors. He allowed the most earned runs (118 in 32 starts) and walked the most batters (90) in the AL. He had no business lasting the entire season in the big leagues and did so only because the Sox were going utterly nowhere.

Now? For Giolito — who’s aiming to become the Sox’ first All-Star pitcher since Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in 2016 — it’s Cleveland or bust.

‘‘But it’s still early June,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve got some more starts. I just have to keep my head down, keep chugging along, keep doing what I’m doing.’’

If he keeps doing what he’s doing, his breakthrough isn’t going to be limited to an All-Star appearance.

‘‘Right now, I’m doing what I’ve always known I could do,’’ he said. ‘‘I want to be this kind of pitcher for the White Sox for a very long time.’’

I’m just sayin’

Giolito is on a heck of a streak, too, with a 7-0 record and 0.88 ERA in his last seven starts. Who does he think he is, anyway, 2016 Jake Arrieta?

By the way, Giolito and wife Ariana, who were married in December, bought a house this week in Davis, California. Life is good.

• We all can agree that Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish is no Giolito. Yet one never would know it by listening to manager Joe Maddon, who for weeks has had the Praise-o-Meter dialed up to 10 when discussing Darvish’s performance. And Maddon isn’t the only one. TV guys Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies are high-ranking officers in the Darvish fan club, too.

I can’t be the only one who slapped himself in the forehead when Darvish was named player of the game during the telecast of the Cubs’ 6-5 loss Monday to the Rockies. Step 1: Take the mound with a 4-0 lead. Step 2: Blow it. Step 3: Take a bow!

Darvish has started eight games since April. He has eight no-decisions in a row. His ERA in those starts is 4.95.

Will there be a parade in his honor when he actually wins one?

• Overheard: The following was the gist of an exchange between Craig Kimbrel and Tyler Chatwood on Friday, moments after the newly signed closer, clad in blue workout attire, made his first appearance in the Cubs’ clubhouse.

‘‘Hey, man, I’m Craig.’’


[A handshake ensues.]

‘‘Do you know where the bathroom is?’’

‘‘Through there.’’

‘‘Thanks. I need a map.’’

• In a true ‘‘Dewey defeats Truman’’ moment, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch actually sent an ad to subscribers of its digital edition that read, ‘‘Congratulations to our champions, the St. Louis Blues.’’ This, before the Blues had their remaining front teeth knocked out by the Bruins in a 5-1 defeat at home in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues still could win it all in Game 7 on Wednesday. But if they don’t — mercy — the flub shall live forever.

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