In July 2017, the Southsiders made a trade that would change the team’s trajectory for good when they sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs for prospects. Among those prospects the White Sox received was highly touted young pitcher Dylan Cease.
After moving through the White Sox minor league system, Cease would make his debut in 2019. He started fourteen games that season en route to an ERA of 5.79. Over the next two seasons, Cease would continue to develop his arsenal and his ERA would drop.
Even still, he was still considered a player with high potential that had to “figure it out” going into 2022. With elite stuff, as evidenced by his 226 strikeouts in 2021, the sky was the limit — if he could just get over the hump.
Early in the 2022 season, Dylan Cease looked like his usual self for the White Sox. With high strikeout and walk numbers, he looked great against lesser teams while struggling against the good ones. The lowest point of the season was his start against the Red Sox on May 24th when he allowed seven earned runs in just three innings.
Since then, Cease has completely turned his season around. In the thirteen starts since that day, he has allowed just five earned runs. Perhaps his best display during this stretch came against Minnesota. In that contest, Cease pitched seven shutout innings with just one hit allowed and eight strikeouts.
Following the start against Boston, his ERA sat at 4.24. Now, he has lowered it all the way to 1.98, good for third in the MLB. His 166 strikeouts also sit at third in the league. His K/9 however, sits atop the league at 12.2.
Flying Under The Radar
Despite being one of the best pitchers in the league in nearly every category, Cease has not always been given the recognition he deserves. In fact, he was not even named to the A.L. All-Star team. This was despite the fact that he led both Nestor Cortes and Paul Blackburn in every statistical pitching category.
Furthermore, in the MLB’s flagship video game MLB the Show 22, he has not once been named to the game’s Player of the Month program, despite inferior pitchers like Jon Gray and Brady Singer receiving acknowledgment.
Currently, Cease is second in betting odds for the A.L. Cy Young award. However, his +300 odds don’t even sniff the -155 odds owned by the Astros Justin Verlander.
Just How Dominant Is Cease?
Last season, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom had one of the most dominating stretches of pitching excellence we have ever seen before losing his season to injury. Through fifteen starts, he owned an ERA of 1.08 with 146 strikeouts and 40 hits allowed.
Over Dylan Cease’s thirteen starts in this unbelievable stretch with the White Sox, he has an ERA of 0.60, 95 strikeouts, and only 47 hits allowed. Now, is Cease as good as deGrom? Of course not, no one is. Alas, over this stretch, he has been nearly as untouchable. However, in deGrom’s case, it was much more publicized.
Going forward, there is not much reason to expect a drop off. Simply put, his stuff is too good to fail. A visit to Cease’s Baseball Savant page shows what you would expect, a lot of red. With a fastball spin rate in the 97th percentile and a whiff rate in the 96th percentile, his fastball is not getting touched.
How about the off-speed you might be wondering? Well, his 95 strikeouts on the slider are the most on any pitch in the league. That pitch offers opposing hitters a startling -30 in run value.
So, despite the lack of recognition around the league (outside of Chicago), Cease is unquestionably one of the leagues very best. With the White Sox just a few games out of the division lead, this magical thirteen game stretch from Dylan Cease is keeping them afloat. Absolutely deserving of a playoff start, he just might get one if he keeps this up.