‘That’s a classic’: Cy Young favorites Justin Verlander, Dylan Cease set to clash in Chicago – ESPN

'That's a classic': Cy Young favorites Justin Verlander, Dylan Cease set to clash in Chicago - ESPN

CHICAGO — A rare, late-season matchup of Cy Young favorites takes place Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field when Houston Astros ace. Justin Verlander facing White Sox right Dylan Stop it.

The two pitchers rank first and second in the AL in ERA, with Verlander’s 1.85 mark better than Cease’s 1.96. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is only the third matchup of starting pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs (with a minimum of 20 starts) since MLB lowered the mound in 1969.

“This is like when I was a kid,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said Monday afternoon. “[Sandy] Koufax and Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale and Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins and Bob Gibson. … I’ll have to be careful and make sure I don’t watch … because if I was at home, I’d get myself a bowl of popcorn and some beer and the only time I’d leave is if there was a commercial or between innings. That’s classic good.”

Coming into the night, Verlander is a minus-175 favorite to win his third Cy Young award while Cease has the second-shortest odds at plus-275, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

As much as the players focus on the game, the prize is not something they avoid either.

“I try not to fixate on it,” Cease said. “We have a lot of other things, but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t on my mind.

“Depending on the results [of the game], it could change things but there is still so much of the season left, I don’t think whoever is better tomorrow is the winner. It’s definitely important.”

Shutout has allowed one or fewer earned runs in 14 straight starts, the longest such streak since earned runs became official in both leagues in 1913. During that time frame, he lowered his ERA from 4.26 to 1.96.

Verlander was asked about Stop competing for the Cy Young award after not being selected for the All-Star Game this year.

“Cy Young is a lot more important than All-Star, in the scheme of things,” Verlander said. “I know his stuff is tremendous. It seems like he put it all together this year.”

Cease will try to avenge a loss to the Astros from last year’s division series, won by Houston in four games. Verlander, meanwhile, had his worst performance this season against the White Sox in June. He gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings.

“You learn from mistakes and adjust accordingly,” Verlander said. “I don’t dwell too much, but yeah, I know they had a good game against me there.”

Verlander is trying to become the oldest pitcher to lead MLB outright in wins and ERA in a season. No pitcher older than 33 has ever done that. His opponent Tuesday was 10 years old when Verlander debuted in 2005.

“Back in the day he would start at 92 mph and end at 101,” Cease said. “I remember watching a lot as a kid and seeing that. The fact that I’m here now and he’s still doing it, it’s pretty rare.”

Cesu was asked if he could imagine pitching at as high a level as Verlander at age 39.

“It’s hard to fathom,” Stop replied. “[He] and [Max] Scherzer shows if you take care of yourself then there’s no reason your sail or anything should get wet. Guys like that make it easy to visualize for sure.”

Both pitchers expressed excitement about the matchup on Tuesday, understanding the spotlight from around the baseball world on the game.

“I don’t think you get a lot of moments like this, where you get two guys having great years like this, to match up,” Verlander said. “Things have to line up so it’s very exciting.”

In the series opener on Monday night, Yoan Moncada hit a two-run single in Chicago’s four-run eighth inning, and the White Sox topped the Astros 4-2 for their fourth straight win.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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