2021 White Sox: Spring Training With Dylan Cease

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Believe it or not, pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training for the 2021 White Sox. If you’re anything like me, you scour the internet for low-quality cellphone videos and interviews from players and coaching staff to build the upcoming season anticipation. For me, Dylan Cease has my attention. The Chicago White Sox have been arriving at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona all week to prepare for the 2021 White Sox season. 

The hiring of Ethan Katz, the “new and improved Don Cooper” according to some has shifted my focus on the younger pitchers that could certainly use a skilled coach to assist in controlling the ball and meeting the standards we hold professional players to. The one player I constantly worried about in 2019 and 2020 was Dylan Cease.

Cease finished 2020 with a 4.01 ERA but wasn’t getting as many strikeouts as his velocity, spin rate, and sharp breaking pitches should have allowed. Cease, 25, went 5-4 with a 4.01 in 12 starts in 2020, his second season in the big leagues. Cease had 44 strikeouts but 34 walks in 58⅓ innings in 2020. 

As the White Sox faced elimination against the A’s in Game 3 of the 2020 AL Wild Card Series, fans expected Cease to start. Rick Renteria had other ideas and started rookie Dane Dunning. It was evident that Renteria did not trust Cease. After only 15 pitches, Dunning was pulled and the White Sox fell to the A’s, ending the playoff dreams of the White Sox. 

The idea of Cease being a starting pitcher didn’t seem feasible, to coaches or fans. The White Sox also didn’t seem to go after a lot of big names. Cease showed promise in February of 2020 and again during Summer Camp, then regressed as the 2020 season played out. The organization has seen this before, and until Cease has command on the mound when it really counts, what is speculated right now doesn’t matter. But does it hurt to be optimistic with the Katz/Cease dynamic leading into 2021? 

2021 White Sox: A Closer Look at Dylan Cease

Fast forward to 2021 Spring Training, Cease seems to be in control and learning a lot from Katz and a core velocity belt.  It has not gone unnoticed by veteran players and the coaching staff. 

“He’s really connected with Ethan, and he’s definitely making progress,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s the kind of guy [where] you can’t wait for his next time out there, which is Saturday.” According to Cease, he’s “very confident right now.”

“I feel like if we get him to where we see him going, this guy could be a Cy Young finalist — he could be a Cy Young winner,” Yasmani Grandal said. “He’s got the tools to do it — there’s no doubt on that. Now it just comes down to the process and making sure he gets to do it and sees the vision that we have for him. And the future is only going to dictate whether we can get him to be what we want him to be or not.”

The Case for Dylan Cease

I’m a forgiver and I strive to be an optimist. Seeing Cease progress and hone his skill makes me optimistic. I know he has it in him, he just needed someone else to rein him in and help figure out the core of his pitching problems. 

At 25 years old with 26 major league starts, Cease is trying not to put any extra pressure on himself. He understands the expectations. “I think the biggest thing is just command, especially the fastball. We’ve worked on not only getting it to carry and ride better, but the second part of the equation is being able to command it. Just commanding basically.” 

He might have a long way to go, but it’s time to give Cease a chance. (Or whatever that Beatles song was called.)

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Chrystal is a lifelong baseball fan that spends her time between Indianapolis and Chicago.