When Dylan Cease was named MLB’s Pipeline pitcher of the year in 2018, high expectations fell upon him. He was feared in the Minor Leagues in 2018, as made apparent by his 2.40 ERA and 1.065 WHIP in 124 innings. Midway through 2019, he got the call-up with the Chicago White Sox.
Unfortunately, Cease was not even close to the same dominant self he was in the minors. He had an impressive debut against the Tigers back on July 3, 2019, but the walks and hits were up and the earned runs piled up quickly.
Cease would follow up his rookie season with slightly better performance but still nowhere near the ace-like stuff scouts said he was to have. Then the team hired Ethan Katz as the new pitching coach.
Credited as the coach who fixed Lucas Giolito, similar expectations fell upon Katz to “fix” Cease. The two worked on delivery and command in the offseason, the tides began to turn. With the hard work he put in the offseason, along with his determination to be a better player for his team, Cease has finally begun to tap into the Cy-Young Award-like stuff.
Once Dylan Cease eliminates one issue, he will be dominant for the Chicago White Sox.
In 61.2 innings, Cease has a 3.36 ERA and a 1.297 WHIP. He has allowed only five home runs and 28 walks compared to his 78 strikeouts. With a record of 4-2, Cease also has three 10+ strikeout games. The walks are still a bit high. Some work still needs to be done about his control. However, Cease clearly has taken that next step.
Although he may be pitching like Superman, Cease does have a kryptonite: the fourth inning. In all 12 starts, Cease has made it past the third inning with no problem. He has allowed ten runs through the first three innings but ten runs in just the fourth inning alone. His 3.00 ERA in the first, 2.25 in the second and third is promising, but his 8.44 ERA in the fourth is frightening.
In 10.2 innings, Cease allowed 11 hits, two doubles, eight walks, and three home runs. Opponents are hitting a slash of .262/.380/.524 with an OPS of .904 and 22 total bases. His WHIP by inning is 1.50 in the first, 1.08 in the second, 1.00 in the third, then 1.78 in the fourth inning.
If Cease can record the twelfth out and make it to the fifth inning and beyond, he settles in. In eight innings pitched in the fifth, he has an ERA at 3.24 with only four walks and a 1.56 WHIP. He has 4.2 innings of work in the sixth inning with seven strikeouts and only a 1.07 WHIP. Twice he has made it to the seventh this season facing and retiring six batters while striking two out.
As the game progresses, Cease builds momentum and gets stronger. It is an odd phenomenon, done no better than Jacob deGrom, but hitters struggle despite seeing more of his pitches. Except, of course, deGrom has no problem making it through the fourth, and Cease just for some reason cannot get outs ten, eleven, and twelve.
For number 84, his season has been similar to a rollercoaster. He has some great starts sandwiched in with some forgettable ones as well. Despite his inconsistency, one thing remains constant, Dylan Cease is the Tiger Tamer.
With seven starts and 42.1 innings, Cease has not seen a team more than he has Detroit. In those seven starts, he has a 7-0 record with a 1.91 ERA. He allowed only 11 walks and punched out 47 with a WHIP of 1.11.
The Tiger Tamer is on tonight so hopefully, he can turn things around in Detroit. A good 1-2-3 inning in Comerica against a team he dominates against will help him build confidence in the fourth inning. Doing so will help Cease take the next step and solidify his name in the rotation.