GLENDALE, ARIZ. — Dylan Cease had a breakout 2022 season, finishing second in the American League Cy Young voting.
He’ll begin 2023 as the opening-day starter for the Chicago White Sox, who will play the Houston Astros in a nationally televised game Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
“(Cease has an) unbelievable demeanor, great demeanor,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said Thursday. “Stress doesn’t bother him. At least he doesn’t show it. That’s a weapon.
“There’s a reason why he’s doing what he’s doing. Really, really locked into his work and committed to being really good.”
It’s the first time Cease, 27, has received the first-game opportunity.
Cease went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 32 starts last season. He was second in the AL in ERA, strikeouts and opponents average (.190) and third in strikeouts per nine innings (11.1).
He had a stretch of 14 starts from May 29 to Aug. 11 in which he allowed one earned run or none, becoming the first major-league starter (not counting openers) since 1913 to accomplish the feat.
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He finished second in the Cy Young voting to Justin Verlander, who pitched for the Astros in 2022 and signed with the New York Mets during the offseason.
Cease is making his final Cactus League start Friday against the Oakland Athletics in Mesa, Ariz.
He has allowed two earned runs in his last two starts spanning 7⅓ innings after giving up 11 runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Royals on March 8. He retired 10 straight against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, including striking out five consecutive batters.
After that outing Cease was asked what being named an opening day starter would mean to him.
“It would definitely be special,” he said. “A big honor.”
That “would” has become reality.