Cease looking to take next step up in White Sox's rotation
Dylan Cease is about as introverted as they come, but the White Sox's 24-year-old starting pitcher opened up when asked about building off his success as a rookie last season and learning from his expected mistakes.
"It was a really good season for me," Cease said. "I didn't necessarily perform how I would have liked to, but I learned a lot from it."
Acquired from the Cubs in the 2017 Jose Quintana trade that also brought Eloy Jimenez to the Sox, Cease made his major league debut on July 3 and had 6 strikeouts in 5 innings against the Tigers.
Cease earned his first win in his first start, but it was far from a smooth ride.
In the first inning, Detroit scored 2 runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and a hit batter.
"I don't think he got comfortable," Tigers left fielder Christin Stewart said. "Once you get punched in the mouth, you try to fight back. I'm sure that's what he was trying to do."
Cease got hit quite a bit while going 4-7 with a 5.79 ERA in 14 starts, but the right-hander got better as he went along.
In addition to striking out 81 batters in 73 innings after joining the White Sox's rotation from Class AAA Charlotte, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder allowed just 7 earned runs in 21 innings (3.00 ERA) over his final 4 starts.
"One of (the things I learned) was more a physical adjustment with my front side," Cease said. "Not getting too rotational on my front side, that's the main thing that's going to be different. I think that's one of the big reasons I was having cutting issues with my fastball.
"But a lot of it was just continuing to battle when you don't necessarily feel good and continuing to prepare and treat every start like you're supposed to."
When baseball is able to resume, Cease slots in as the Sox's No. 4 starter behind Lucas Giolito and a pair of veteran newcomers -- left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez.
With his mechanical adjustment, look for the high walk count (35 in 73 innings) to drop. That should allow Cease to pitch much deeper into games.
"He's not far from getting himself in a position where he's efficient and keeps himself out there for an extended period of time during a ballgame," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Great stuff. He had another year of baseball under his belt, a year in the big leagues. I'm extremely confident about the skills he brings to the table and I'm extremely confident he will improve."