(Audacy) Astros ace Justin Verlander didn't wait long to grab hold of the frontrunner spot in the American League Cy Young race this season, and he has done nothing to relinquish it as we're into mid-August.
But with the stretch run ramping up, White Sox ace Dylan Cease is making a compelling case for himself.
Cease has had an impressive season, as he's 12-5 with a 1.96 ERA, which ranks second in all of MLB just behind Verlander's 1.85 ERA. Cease also leads MLB with 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He has allowed more than two earned runs in just three starts this season and is now getting increased attention as he has put together a streak of 14 straight games allowing one earned run or fewer, which dates back to May 29.
Suffice it to say then, there will be plenty of intrigue at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday evening when Cease takes the mound opposite Verlander as the White Sox and Astros square off. The result might not have much sway in the voting later this season, but it will showcase the two top candidates for the award.
With Cease surging, Audacy MLB insider Jon Heyman told the Mully & Haugh Show that it's possible Cease catches Verlander in the Cy Young race.
“They’ve been the two best pitchers in the league," Heyman said. "I think Verlander is in the lead, I don’t want to say anybody is guaranteed to do anything – I’ll say (Aaron) Judge is the MVP, I don’t think that can go away – but I think the Cy Young race is somewhat close right now.
“I would say Verlander is clearly in the lead, but Cease to be on a 14-game streak with one run or zero runs in all those games, I mean it’s almost (Jake) Arrieta-like, that one streak that he went on (in 2015). Maybe not quite to that degree, but pretty darn good. And Arrieta caught (Zack) Greinke, Cease can catch Verlander.”
Through Sunday, Verlander's 15 wins, 1.85 ERA and 0.86 WHIP all lead MLB, as does his 209 ERA+.
Cease has offered stability for a White Sox team that often has lacked it this season. If he can continue his pace, especially if Chicago can sneak into the postseason, he should get strong consideration for the honor. It might not be enough to beat Verlander, but Cease at least will be making voters think long and hard.