Sale tabbed to start All-Star Game for AL

Sale tabbed to start All-Star Game for AL

CHICAGO -- There was a time during the 2016 season when Chris Sale was pretty darn close to untouchable -- nine starts, nine victories and three complete games, not to mention a 1.58 ERA.

Sale has been more mortal over his last nine starts, but the left-hander's overall body of work remains impressive enough to earn the start -- his first -- in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard tonight at Petco Park (6:30 p.m. CT on FOX) as announced by Royals and American League manager Ned Yost on Monday.

Through 18 starts, Sale has a 14-3 record with a 3.38 ERA. He has moved away from the max-effort, high-strikeout total with each pitch and each start, but the 27-year-old has recorded 123 strikeouts over 125 innings, while walking 26. Sale posted a 1.04 WHIP and a .225 opponents average against.

Sale joins Esteban Loaiza (2003) and Mark Buehrle ('05) as the White Sox All-Star starting pitchers since 1960. This All-Star appearance marks Sale's fifth straight, meaning he's been an All-Star every year since joining the starting rotation.

"It's something that doesn't come around very often," Sale said during a recent interview. "I definitely appreciate this one as much as any.

"There's nothing like the first one. I truly believe that. But I'm definitely very appreciative of the time and what it is. It's always fun. My family enjoys it. I enjoy having my family with me."

A large group from Sale's family -- including his mother, father, wife, son, sister and in-laws -- made the trip to San Diego following Sunday afternoon's first-half finale. He's coming off of his worst start of the year against the Braves on Friday, but he has arguably been the first-half MVP for a team in playoff contention, and he now has a chance to set the All-Star tone for the AL.

2016 All-Star roster

"I've always been there and seen the start of the game and just everything that goes into it," Sale said. "I would be thrilled to do that."

"One thing he's learned, and it's nice to see, is that he knows he doesn't have to pitch at 95, 96 [mph]," said Cubs All-Star starter Jon Lester of Sale. "That's helped him stay healthy the past couple years. He's such a good competitor. You see him get after guys. He's one of those guys who has that bulldog persona when he's pitching, but you can see he's having fun doing it. That's hard to do. Obviously, the talent and the stuff speaks for itself."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.