Growing up, Dylan Cease always longed to see Justin Verlander start.
“Just the fact that, especially in the past, I was starting at 92 (mph) and finishing at 101,” Cease said Monday. “I remember seeing him a lot when he was a kid and seeing that. The fact that I’m here now and he’s still doing it, it’s pretty weird.”
Cease and Verlander, candidates for the American League Cy Young Award, are scheduled to start Tuesday when the Chicago White Sox continue their four-game series with the Houston Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“You’ve got Cease for us has been killing it, and Verlander has been doing it for so long,” Red Sox outfielder AJ Pollock said. “I’m sure people will be tuning in. Yeah, it’s a good matchup for the fans.”
Verlander, 39, in his 17th season, leads the majors in wins (15), ERA (1.85) and WHIP (0.86).
Cease said one thing that stands out about Verlander is that “he’s constantly in the strike zone.”
Verlander told reporters Monday that while he hasn’t seen much of Cease, he is impressed with the Red Sox right-hander’s stuff.
“I know his material is tremendous,” Verlander said. “It seems like he has put it all together this year.”
Verlander has made a comeback after missing last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made one start in 2020 before going on the disabled list three days later with a right forearm strain.
“Missing the amount of time that went by and coming back and essentially being a horse and a guy that a team can trust, it’s just incredibly impressive,” Cease said earlier this month.
Cease, 26, hasn’t thought about trying to match Verlander’s longevity.
“It’s hard to understand, but I think he and (New York Mets starter Max) Scherzer are proving that if you take care of yourself, there’s no reason your (speed) or anything else has to slow down,” he said. Cease. “Guys like that are making it easier to imagine for sure.”
Cese is second in the American League in ERA (1.96) and strikeouts (174). His 12.17 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest rate in baseball.
Has allowed an earned run or none in a major-league-record 14 consecutive starts.
“I tried to focus on what I think I need to focus on to execute, and these are the results,” Cease said of the streak. “It’s a less stressful way of doing it, just focusing on what needs to be done and letting what happens happen and adjusting from there.”
Verlander will look to adjust after having his shortest outing of the season on June 18 against the Sox at Minute Maid Park. He allowed seven runs (four earned) and nine hits in 3⅔ innings. in a 7-0 loss.
Cease did not pitch in the three-game series in Houston. The last time he saw the Astros was Game 3 of the American League Division Series in October at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Sox won 12-6but Cease lasted just 1⅔ innings and allowed three runs on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
“I was disappointed,” Cease said of his feeling coming off the mound. “I was very excited and I felt like for the most part I was pretty calm. It didn’t go my way. He was disappointed, but at the end of the day I wasn’t going to let it be something that would stop me from going out again.”
That approach has paid off this season in a big way, leading to Tuesday’s rumor-worthy matchup.
“It’s exciting, and I’d rather keep it that way than see it as your average game,” Cease said. “It’s exciting that it looks like a great matchup.”
The Red Sox reinstated pitcher Vince Velasquez from the injured list before Monday’s game and sent reliever Matt Foster to Triple-A Charlotte.
Velasquez went on the disabled list July 6 with a blister on his right index finger. He made four relief appearances for Charlotte during a rehab assignment, allowing three runs in 5⅔ innings.
Velasquez is 3-3 with a 5.21 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 14 games (eight starts) this season.
“My job is to be ready,” Velasquez said. “It’s a great clubhouse and we have a lot of potential to try to do some damage here. I definitely want to be a part of this.”