You may expect me to come here and shit on the All-Star Game and tell you it doesn’t matter if Lucas Giolito starts it for the American League or not. And then do various Rock impressions and references, which I’ll be doing anyway around my house because that’s how I get through the day. But that’s not what I’m here to do.
The ASG has lost some gloss to everyone, I think, but mostly that’s because of how the game is played. Everyone gets in, everyone gets on a roster after expansions and injuries and pitchers declared ineligible. The every team rule also is a bit stupid, but at least that one I understand. It wasn’t the tie in 2002 that cheapened it, it was the response to it. Not everyone needs to play in it, and keeping the best of the best on the field longer would go some way to restoring the luster of it. Then again, I totally understand those who would rather catch a flight home somewhere around the 7th inning and get a mini-break in during a very long season.
That said, the All-Star starter still carries a lot of weight, at least to me. It’s the spot that can’t get borked by some stupid fan campaign to load votes onto whoever a fanbase has decided needs to be there. It doesn’t get altered by the every team rule, because it’s just about the only spot where the best player for the first half gets his role without any bullshit. Sure, he might have to bow out if he starts on the Sunday before or whatever the rule is, but he gets the title. Those who take the mound on that Tuesday in July first, there’s something special about them. They are unquestionably the best at what they do for that season at that point.
So the question now becomes should Giolito be the AL starter in Cleveland? Yes, of course. What’re you stupid? Get outta here. I ain’t got time for this.
Ok, obviously it’s not that simple. Giolito does have the best FIP in the AL, and the third best ERA behind Jake Odorizzi and Charlie Morton. By fWAR, Giolito is the best pitcher in the league right now. According to Baseball reference, he’s behind Mike Minor, Verlander, and Matthew Boyd. So let’s just say fuck Baseball Reference, huh? (I don’t mean that. Love you, BBREF). By ERA-, which does take park effects into account, Giolito trails Odorizzi and Morton as well. When it comes to ERA, I would argue that both Odorizzi and Morton play behind significantly better defenses than Giolito does, though the Twins only have the significant advantage in the outfield.
I suppose it would be hypocritical to argue that MLB should step in, but this is a league that’s had a hard time marketing new stars and getting them into the consciousness of the casual sporting public. And Odorizzi or Morton are hardly household names. But Giolito carries more weight, as he plays in a team that’s been dormant for a while. Sure, Morton plays for a team that they need to get ANYONE to watch, and his selection it could be argued would remind people that the Rays exist. They also gave Blake Snell, deservedly, the fucking Cy Young last year and still no one cares. The Twins are the new hotness as well, so Odorizzi along with the raft of others they’ll have at the game could lead that charge.
But of the three, it feels like the selection of Giolito would be part of a start of something, a marker in a career that could go just about anywhere. This is probably as brightly as Morton or Odorizzi will burn. It would, hopefully, not be the pinnacle of Giolito’s career.
He’s going either way, and will probably get on the mound. And that will be a thrill for Sox fans as they wait for meaningful baseball again. But give him the full ride.