Dylan Cease came into the 2021 Chicago White Sox season with many goals. The big one was to become one of the mainstays in the rotation. He won the spot as the 4th starter out of Spring Training. Carlos Rodon was the number five guy when the season began but you can be assured that he has played himself out of that role already. Cease is probably considered the number five at this point which isn’t a bad thing at all.
In fact, Cease’s last two starts have been the two best of his career. He dominated the Detroit Tigers two starts ago but people brushed it off because it was the Tigers. Then he was even better against the Cincinnati Reds who statistically have the best offense in the National League. That one got some people looking. If Cease and Rodon keep this up, they could be the best four and five in the league.
The Chicago White Sox need all of their pitchers to play well in order to be an elite team.
It is fair to wonder if Cease turning the corner has something to do with added motivation. Michael Kopech looks like he has a chance to be the best pitcher in the league let alone on the White Sox. It is no exaggeration to say that he has that type of ceiling. We know that when Kopech joins the rotation full time (if it happens in 2021), Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance Lynn are safe. It is also fair to say that as of right now, Carlos Rodon is as safe as anyone as well.
That would leave Cease as the odd man out of he didn’t start performing to the best of his ability. Well, right when Kopech started dominating in his spot starts to go along with his relief dominance, Cease started to turn the corner. You have to wonder if Kopech being right there motivated him to be the best version of himself.
Cease has brilliant stuff and we have known it ever since the White Sox acquired him. It was also clear that he desperately needed to learn how to command it. It is starting to look like he has. If Michael Kopech is what is motivating Cease so that he can keep his job, that is a great thing. Internal competition is good for everyone involved.
Now, there is plenty for everyone to eat when Kopech is a full-time starter. Dallas Keuchel or Lance Lynn aren’t going to be there forever and they can even make a six-man rotation. If Cease and Kopech are both dominating, that is a great problem to have for the Chicago White Sox organization. Both of these guys are so good and have extremely bright futures with this team.