White Sox fans have plenty of valid complaints. The list ranges from performance inconsistency, Tony LaRussa’s refusal to modernize his management and a dormant front office unwilling to do what’s necessary to put the team over the top of a division begging to be won. Nobody except batters gripes about Cease’s spectacular season.
Modifying slider grips changed the fortunes of the 26-year-old ace. He leads the AL in WAR and a blazing fastball, touching 100 mph, torch hordes of hitters along that WAR path. Cease sits second behind Gerrit Cole in AL strikeouts. He only trails Verlander in a variety of major pitching statistics.
Verlander’s injury cracks the door open for Cease to enter the lead in many of those important categories. For instance, Cease needs three wins to pass Verlander for the lead.
Considering he just threw a one-hitter two starts ago, that’s very possible. Verlander may not return to form in time while Cease continues domination or the aged Astros ace might face heavy pitch count restrictions.
Cease saving his best performances for last leaves a strong impression to voters who oftentimes suffer from recency bias. Even if that’s not a factor, it’s impossible to forgetCease’s 11-game span where he gave up 3 total runs. Not per start, total! Only Cease and Bob Gibson have done that since 1920.
Gibson won the Cy Young in that 1968 season. Oddsmakers anticipate Cease following those hallowed footsteps to the awards banquet.
Verlander is no stranger to the Cy Young. He’s won two and finished in the top three 6 times.
The scenery changes, but the domination of the landscape remains the same this year. He leads the majors with an astounding 0.86 WHIP. That level of baserunner limitation is one very few starting pitchers have reached since the live-ball era started in 1920.
Dylan Cease misses the premium cut. Electric velocity and slider movement zaps his ability to control his repertoire at a comparable level. He leads the majors in walks. That blemish on an otherwise beautiful season looks particularly bad to voters who nowadays put controllable factors on a pedestal.
Verlander’s MLB-leading ERA both raw and adjusted for ballpark factors catches the eye of anyone searching for this season’s best pitcher. Keeping baserunners, and ultimately runs, low on the team upholding the best record in the AL translates to 16 wins. That total also leads the league.
Subscribe to our newsletter
The best bets and resources to make you more profitable
Highlighting wins recall bygone baseball eras. However, in a race as close as this one, any small edge, analytical or archaic, represents a possible deciding factor.
The regular season will be closing by the time Verlander could realistically return. The Astros finish the stellar campaign against the 78-59 Tampa Bay Rays and 77-62 Philadelphia Phillies. Both of those teams claw for a playoff spot. Verlander hasn’t faced either team this year.
Conversely, 12 of the White Sox’s 19 remaining games are against teams with a non-winning record. All but five games occur against division rivals. Cease likely has to travel next outing to the friendliest hitting park, Coors Field.
The slugging storm spawns a rainbow where golden opportunities and Cy Young silver await. Divisional familiarity gives Cease a strong advantage for personal knowledge of hitters he’s demolished all season. Although the Padres play in the NL, Petco Park is a pitcher’s paradise and the location of the penultimate series.