‘Something I’ve always dreamt of’: Gilbert named All-Star

July 7th, 2024

SEATTLE -- He’s blossomed into a beacon of consistency and has slowly gained more recognition for it beyond the Pacific Northwest. And now, the rest of the league has taken notice.

At long last, is an All-Star.

The 27-year-old right-hander was named to the American League team for the Midsummer Classic set for Tuesday, July 16, at Globe Life Field in Arlington. He’s the Mariners’ lone representative, at least for now, as it’s possible more are added in the coming days if other players drop out for injuries or personal reasons.

Gilbert’s selection was revealed in the home clubhouse at T-Mobile Park by Mariners manager Scott Servais in a team meeting roughly one hour before first pitch for Sunday’s series finale vs. Toronto.

“I think I was in shock a little bit,” Gilbert said. “We'll see the video. I feel like I don't even know if I showed any emotion. I know that's kind of strange for me. But I don't even know. It's just a dream come true. It's something I've always dreamt of as a kid, and I was really hoping it would happen eventually and felt like I had a decent chance this year.”

Gilbert said that Servais dragged out the meeting by dissecting the Mariners’ overall performance in the first half before eventually revealing Gilbert’s selection.

“I'm like trying to find out who it is,” Gilbert said. “And then he eventually said it was me and everybody was so nice and supportive and just going crazy.”

Even good buddy Cal Raleigh, who always has the hilarious but good-natured jabs?

“I couldn’t do it without him,” Gilbert said.

The nod for Gilbert comes in his fourth and most convincing season so far.

Among qualified AL pitchers entering Sunday, he ranked near the top in most statistical categories, with an 0.92 WHIP (first), 117 2/3 innings (second), 6.42 hits per nine innings (second), .592 OPS against (sixth), a 2.91 ERA (seventh), 108 strikeouts (ninth) and a 4.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio (11th).

He’s also had three outings in which he threw eight shutout innings, on May 4 in Houston, on June 16 vs. Texas and on June 22 in Miami.

Gilbert has essentially given the Mariners a chance to win each time out, though run support has plagued him at times. His 14 quality starts are tied for the second most in the Majors, but among those, he has seven no-decisions and two losses. His average run support of 2.83 per outing is the game’s third-lowest.

It’s unclear if he’ll actually get to pitch in the Midsummer Classic, however, given that he’s in line to start Seattle’s final game of the first half next Sunday in Anaheim. That’d leave him on just one day’s rest, which would almost certainly be out of the question for him to then throw on Tuesday. However, if the Mariners were to rearrange the rotation -- perhaps by activating Bryan Woo from the 15-day IL this week -- then Gilbert could potentially pitch in Arlington.

“If it's up to me, I don't care. I'll throw either way,” Gilbert said. “I would love to. I'll tell [Servais] I'm fresh regardless, but I think I have the last day and usually those guys don't throw. So we'll see.”

Either way, he’s just thrilled for the opportunity -- above all, to be among the game’s greats. Some of the pitchers he’s most excited to connect with are Baltimore’s Corbin Burnes and Kansas City’s Cole Ragans.

Gilbert also joins former Cy Young Award winners Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom as the only Stetson University alumni to earn All-Star selections.

“To be mentioned with those guys is pretty special,” Gilbert said. “They're two of the best to ever do it.”

Beyond Gilbert, the Mariners had a few other strong All-Star candidates, most notably Raleigh and reliever Andrés Muñoz.

Raleigh was beaten out by Kansas City’s Salvador Perez and Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman, while Muñoz missed out to the Guardians’ Emmanuel Clase, the Yankees’ Clay Holmes, Oakland’s Mason Miller and the Rangers’ Kirby Yates.