Reds 7, White Sox 3: Dylan Cease finally pays for control issues

An ERA around 3.00 had masked the frustrating nature of Dylan Cease’s starts this season, but this one transcended “frustrating” and found “farcical.”

Cease’s line shows three no-hit innings. It also shows three runs, all of them earned, because he issued seven walks and plunked a batter over those three-plus innings. He needed only 10 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 first, but every subsequent inning was more labored than the one that came before, and it culminated in a truly pathetic fourth inning for both pitchers involved.

Cease opened the fourth by getting ahead 1-2 on Jesse Winker, only to walk Cincinnati’s leadoff man, as well as the next two batters. That brought his afternoon to an end after 80 pitches, just 37 of which were strikes. In came Ross Detwiler, who had his own problems. He got a couple grounders that exchanged runs for outs, but after intentionally walking Nick Castellanos to get a lefty-lefty matchup with Joey Votto, Detwiler ended up walking Votto on five pitches. And then he walked Eugenio Suarez on five pitches to bring in a run.

At that point, Mike Moustakas finally delivered the Reds’ first hit, a muscled grounder through the open side of the shift for a two-run single that broke the game open.

It wasn’t a scintillating game for the White Sox on the other side of the ball, but Cease, Detwiler and Steve Cishek combined for 11 walks and three hit batters over six innings. That just wasn’t an effort suitable for winning, especially since Cease had no reason to avoid the strike zone. The Reds only put four balls in play against him, and they were all grounders to the right side — three to José Abreu, and one that Abreu let go to Nick Madrigal in short right field for a 4-3.

But Cease’s aversion to the strike zone seems more physical than mental. He keeps doing that thing where the bulk of his pitches miss inside to left-handed hitters, and it’s to the point where I wouldn’t count on him improving until next season.

The White Sox actually outhit the Reds 6-5, but they had a lot more bad at-bats as well, which prevented multiple rallies from taking shape. They struck out 14 times on the day, and Tim Anderson, James McCann and Madrigal all swung at pitches that bounced in the other batter’s box.

They did push two across in the top of the fifth to respond to Cincinnati’s five-spot in the fourth. With one out, Luis Robert drew the first of his two walks, then advanced to third on Yolmer Sánchez’s single. Anderson missed out on a chance to load the bases with a walk, swinging at a slider that bounced in front of the left-handed batter’s box for the second out. Madrigal also swung at a slider off the plate, but two differences:

  1. The fastball before it was called for a strike well off the plate.
  2. He threw his bat at it, giving him a running start on a grounder to the right side, and he beat it out for an RBI infield single.

José Abreu’s double to left field was more resounding, and made it a 5-2 game. Eloy Jiménez made it three good plate appearances in a row, but his attempt to drive a 2-2 slider the other way ended up in Castellanos’ glove for the third out.

The momentum stalled in the bottom of the inning. Aristides Aquino crushed a Detwiler fastball to Kentucky, which got the two runs back. From that point on, the Sox could only muster one other tally on an Edwin Encarnación solo shot. He’d struck out in his first three plate appearances, but he was able to redirect a low-and-away 95 mph fastball the other way.

At least Garrett Crochet’s presence allows the White Sox to make something out of low-leverage situations. He made his second MLB appearance, and the Reds look less dumbfounded by his heat. All four Reds he faced put the ball in play, including a single through the right side by Winker, and a flyout to the warning track by Nick Senzel. Heat alone doesn’t make a reliever excellent these days, so it’s nice to have situations where learning about Crochet’s limitations won’t sway the outcome.

Bullet points:

*Anderson left the game during his final at-bat, grabbing his hamstring after a swing. The White Sox called it a cramp and said he’s day-to-day.

*José Ruiz has thrown four scoreless, walkless outings this year, with two strikeouts in each of his two innings against the Reds.

*The White Sox hadn’t allowed 14 free baserunners (walks and HBPs) since that ghastly first week back from the strike in 1995.

Record: 34-19 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Shingos Cheeseburgers

All right, you know what? This is dumb. Dump it. Trash it. This one’s garbage.


Cease, figure out what you do. You had aaaaalllllllll offseason to think of it


Is there any reason to keep Cishek on the playoff roster?

Right Size Wrong Shape

No way, especially if Bummer and Marshall are coming back. I think they also need to make room for Collins if they plan to DH McCann and Grandal in the playoffs.


What is it with Sox hitters and just swinging at terrible sliders that never have the zone? Even Pito, in his MVP caliber year, keeps swinging at these. It’s not even just the Reds that have done this but I keep noticing ugly swings at non competitive low and away sliders all season long.


Agree, b-p. In this most enjoyable season, one of the things that just drives me wild is the combination of swinging at terrible pitches (often ball 4), and taking seemingly perfect hittable pitches (often for a 3rd strike). The W Sox are putting up such awesome offensive numbers that it’ doesn’t seem fair to point out the negatives. This lack of plate discipline is frustrating to me and I don’t know whether to point the finger at the individual batters or the hitting coaches, or both.


Slight aside:
I was blissfully unaware that Joey Votto was that old.
Do we reckon he gets into the Hall, or is he going to be dinged for playing for the Reds his entire career?

As Cirensica

Another Canadian player, Larry Walker, who was a lot better than Votto took a lot of time to get in. I think Votto will not get in but he will be in the ballot for 10 years. He will be inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame for sure. He will accompany Kirk McCaskill, among other notable Canadians


By wRC+, Votto has been outstanding for his career sitting at 150. That’s higher than David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez, and Larry Walker. I don’t think anyone can argue he doesn’t have a good bat. He doesn’t have the counting stats though with (as of right now) fewer than 300 home runs and 1000 RBIs. He’s only won 1 gold glove so he can’t bank on the “elite defense” argument that some other players have snuck in on. He’s probably one of the more interesting test cases for the analytical group because he made his hay on a career .420 OBP with some decent power which doesn’t seem like a thing that gets rewarded without a closet full of gold gloves as well.

As Cirensica

A fascinating comparison is underappreciated Bobby Abreu. Votto was a better hitter, but not by much, and Abreu stole 400 bases which compensates the “inferior” bat. Abreu has barely survive the HoF ballot cut in 2020 with a meager 5.5% which is a travesty.


He also got caught stealing 128 times, which I would think makes him a neutral or negative base stealer. And he only made 2 All-Star teams.