Fine-tuning Dylan Cease‘s stuff is still a work in progress. Sunday afternoon marked a step in the right direction for the 25-year-old Chicago White Sox right hander. Cease put together a strong performance as he went 4.1 innings with six strikeouts and only allowing one run. While he would have liked to have gone deeper in the game, there were some positive signs.
Dylan Cease’s struggles in the first inning are well documented. Bad first innings are something that has plagued Cease throughout his young career. These problems did not emerge on Sunday as Cease was able to make it out of the first inning with ease. He would have had a 1-2-3 inning if not for a fielding error by Yoan Moncada. He brushed the setback aside getting batter Carlos Santana to chase a slider in the dirt for a strikeout.
Cease’s slider was very sharp throughout the afternoon. It was his weapon of choice and he used it well. Five of his six strikeouts were courtesy of the slider. Cease got Andrew Benintendi to swing through a slider in the zone. Later, Jorge Soler fell victim to a slider that dropped off into the dirt, much like Santana’s strike three in the first inning. He then got Kyle Isbel to look at a slider for a backward K and finished the fourth by twirling a slider past the bat of Soler once again.
While his slider was working for him, his fastball command was not. Cease constantly missed up in the zone and walked three hitters. His ball-to-strike ratio was not great either at 50-40. The command issues were the reason Cease was not able to go deeper into the game.
The Royals were unable to barrel him up until the fifth. They recorded three of their four hits off of him that inning. Up to that point, most of the damage they had done to Cease was self-inflicted. To be fair, he seemingly had Carlos Santana called out on strikes in the fourth inning but Santana was gifted a walk on a pitch that had the entire strike zone.
This missed call cost Cease some extra pitches he shouldn’t have had to throw. With one out in the fifth and a tie game, Cease could have stayed in the game because he was only at 90 pitches. Ultimately, Tony La Russa opted to have Micheal Kopech finish the inning.
Cease was able to lower his ERA to 3.86 in which was overall a solid start for him. He is nowhere near his potential, but after a rough first start against the Angels, his second appearance of the year showed some positive strides towards being the dominating ace the White Sox know he can be.