Dylan Cease watched Justin Verlander pitch growing up originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
How often do you get to compete against your childhood idols on the biggest stage for the biggest prize?
That's precisely what Dylan Cease is doing.
On Tuesday night, the 26-year old pitching star will take on the venerable, legendary Justin Verlander when the White Sox face off against the Houston Astros. The two are the frontrunners for the AL Cy Young award, with Verlander leading the chase.
This season, the Cease and Verlander have the two lowest ERAs and most wins amongst all other pitchers in the MLB. Cease led the league for long stretches in strikeouts and currently sits third with 168 on the season. Verlander has the most impressive WHIP, leading all pitchers with a 0.86 value.
Amongst the impressive outings each have posted, it's tough not to seek motivation from the prestigious award.
Do they think about it?
"I think about it a little bit,” Cease said via 670 the Score. “I am trying not to fixate on it. We have a lot of other things going on. Definitely it is, I would be lying if I said it wasn't on my mind. I don't think whoever does better in this game is the winner, but it's definitely important.”
“Old guys think about it too,” Verlander said. “It’s very natural to think about that.”
Who can blame them? The award certifies you the best pitcher for one half of the league. For either two, they each could make the argument of being the best pitcher in the league.
Unfortunately for Cease, he wasn't named an AL All-Star this season. He used his snub from the award as extra motivation and has dominated ever since. He's posted 13 straight starts giving up one earned run or less.
Tuesday's game rings different for Cease. Growing up, he admitted to getting excited for games Verlander would pitch. Cease was nine years old when Verlander made his major league debut in 2005.
“He was definitely someone I looked forward to watching,” Cease said of Verlander. “I would look at his games and watch him on YouTube all the time. He would start out in his games throwing 92 miles per hour and finish in the late innings throwing 101 miles per hour. Just the fact that I am here now and he is still doing it is pretty rare.”
Cease no longer has to watch Verlander from his childhood television. Not only can he see him up close, but he can indulge in the acknowledgement Verlander gives him for his incredible pitching season.
“You do not get these matchups too often of two guys having great years,” Verlander said. “It's very exciting. Things have to align just right. He is having a tremendous year. He seems to have put it all together now.”
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