Dylan Cease did not have his best stuff but was able to battle and keep the Chicago White Sox afloat in their victory over the Minnesota Twins. When Cease has been good this season, he has pounded the strike zone and worked with a rhythm. He did none of those things on Tuesday night. Cease was out of rhythm for much of the evening and threw only 63 percent of his pitches for strikes.
Yet, he was able to work around traffic and make the big pitches when the situation demanded it. This start could indicate that Cease could be developing into a dominant force. His whiff rate on pitches this season is 32 percent. That is not only the highest of his career but well above the Major League average of 24.4 percent. Add that with the mental toughness he showed and we could be on the verge of seeing something special.
Dylan Cease was working on a 13 scoreless inning streak heading into Tuesday night’s start against the Minnesota Twins. It marked the first meeting between the two division rivals, and with the Twins representing the biggest roadblock for the White Sox heading into the season, the game carried a little extra weight.
It looked as if Cease had carried the momentum from his previous two dominant starts into this one. He worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning bookended by a pair of strikeouts. The second inning is where the trouble began.
After getting Max Kepler to fly out he got Jorge Polanco down 0-2 in the count. Cease then made one of his worst pitches of the night when he severely mislocated a fastball. Instead of getting it up in the zone as Yasmani Grandal wanted, he grooved it right down the middle and Polanco sent it rocketing into the right-field stands.
The command issues continued when he walked the next batter then proceeded to load the bases by surrendering two consecutive singles. Cease got Ben Rortvedt down 0-2 and was on the precipice of getting a huge second out. He then spun a slider two far inside and hit him to push another run across.
The inning could have gotten much uglier by Cease barred down and got Luis Arraez to hit a sac fly. Another run was pushed across by no further damage was done thanks to Adam Eaton gunning Andrelton Simmons down at third.
Dylan Cease showed his maturity for the rest of the start. After raising his pitch count and losing his command it would have been very easy to unravel the rest of the way but Cease battled and was able to keep the White Sox in the game. He also prevented the bullpen to have to come in before the fifth inning.
Cease ran into trouble again in the third inning. After a leadoff walk, Nelson Cruz sent a line drive off the back of Dylan Cease. He had to scramble to pick up the ball and get the out at first base. After being pelted with a line drive that had an exit velocity oner 100 mph, he gutted it out for the remainder of the inning. He hit Max Kepler with a pitch but worked around the traffic unscathed.
That is when Cease began to dial it in. He struck out the side in the fourth when he got Willians Astudillo to whiff at a nasty slider, then embarrassed Andrelton Simmons with a knuckled curve.
Dylan Cease has the ability to make Chicago White Sox opponents look silly.
Ben Rortvedt worked a full count then took a four-seam fastball down the middle. It marked a pivotal 1-2-3 inning for Cease who was able to keep the pitch count down and allowed him to trot back out for another inning.
He was greeted by a leadoff single. With the game tied at three, it was pivotal for Cease to keep the Twins at bay. He responded by blowing a 96 mph fastball past Josh Donaldson. Nelson Cruz put pressure on with a single and then Max Kepler shaped places with him on a fielder’s choice ground out.
Jorge Polanco came to the plate for the biggest at-bat of the night for Dylan Cease. The pressure mounted when Kepler stole second base to put two runners in scoring position. Cease worked a 2-2 count. Sensing the end of his night Dylan Cease ramped it up with a 97 mph fastball that Polanco was just able to get a piece of. He followed that up with something soft and got him to bite on his changeup. It was Cease’s seventh and final strikeout of the evening.
His final line was five innings, five hits, three runs (all earned), two walks, and seven strikeouts. While the line may not look that impressive, this start showed tremendous growth in Dylan Cease. He lost his rhythm a couple of times but made the big pitches when he had to.
Cease was also not working with his best stuff and his command was sporadic at times but he was able to limit the damage. The fact he was able to make it through five innings after his ugly second inning was very impressive. Cease has only had great stuff but he showed he can be a pitcher and not just a thrower.