White Sox rotation coalescing after Dylan Cease bounces back

White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease
(Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

Dylan Cease had nowhere to go but up after allowing 11 runs over two-thirds of one inning (or one-third of two innings) in his previous spring start, and he didn’t use all of his cushion with his start against Oakland on Tuesday.

But according to accounts as his outing unfolded, it appeared as though he gave it some thought.

Cease allowed two runs (one earned) over 3⅓ innings against the Oakland Athletics, which was good enough to lower his Cactus League ERA to an even 18. Because the game wasn’t streamed live, we have to take everybody’s word for it.

Cease struggled in the first inning, allowing back-to-back hits to Shea Langeliers and Seth Brown and then a walk to Brent Rooker. He had trouble locating his slider, but after two runs came home in the first, he was able to correct the issue, and had a smooth ending to his outing, holding the A’s scoreless for his last 2 1/3 innings.

“I threw curveballs and sliders really well for strikes,” Cease said. “I started off a little slow, but I feel like I got my rhythm. It’s definitely a positive step in the right direction.”

James Fegan also relayed progress with Cease’s velocity.

Given that Cease prioritized a full and proper spring training when explaining why he wasn’t pitching in the World Baseball Classic, it makes sense that he would take advantage of the longer, low-stakes runway in his ramp-up toward Opening Day. Then again, he would’ve made the same call even if he were trying to work through/past something, so again, we’re back to taking people at their word.

With Cease rebounding well enough to stabilize his situation, the White Sox pretty much have all of their starting pitchers going in the right direction.

Lance Lynn: He’s having fun in the World Baseball Classic, picking up the victory against Canada with five easy innings. He threw 42 of 65 pitches for strikes, struck out six without a walk, and while he gave up a solo homer, it was after sitting through a nine-run first for Team USA.

Lucas Giolito: He takes the ball today, coming off six strikeouts over three innings in his previous start against the Cubs. It looks like there will be some sort of streaming option on the Giants’ side, so we can update our assessment later today.

Michael Kopech: It took until March 11 for him to appear in a game, but he extinguished any concerns by retiring all nine Angels he faced on 37 pitches, going to the bullpen to get his pitch count past 45.

Mike Clevinger: He hit 96 on the stadium gun in his only A-game action thus far against his former team, giving some credence to the idea that he’s past his knee issues.

It’s not quite “firing on all cylinders,” but it could be worse. The Mets, for instance, will be without José Quintana until July at the earliest due to a stress fracture in his rib, which had a benign lesion on it. Given that Quintana was the most popular free agent in the Offseason Plan Project, many Sox fans imagined him returning to the South Side to shore up the rotation, and imagine what a blow that would be.

The hope is that such a crisis will continue to be theoretical. Pointing out good health always feels like an invitation for bad news, but given the White Sox’s pitching depth issues, an intact five-man rotation is close to necessity. For the time being, it’s on the right path.

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knoxfire30

Rotation is looking about as good as you can hope for spring.

The bullpen competition is definitely heating up, Avila and Santos could make the opening day roster it seems. Gonna be interesting to see how they juggle guys around with Avila being a rule 5 guy, and a few other relievers being out of options.

upnorthsox

Hard to say on the BP, we haven’t had the first big cutdown yet and a lot of guys are pitching ok. There really are only one or two spots in competition. I don’t know that Avila and Santos have pitched any better than Foster and Ruiz. Wouldn’t be surprised if they went with Brian Shaw. Tanner Banks may be getting a reprieve with Bummer out, Nate Fisher getting a long look too.

bobsquad

German has looked fantastic too. For a guy whose one big issue was command, he’s thrown 35 of 39 pitches for strikes.

Without a clear cut swingman like Velasquez, ability to pitch long relief is probably going to decide at least 1 of those last 2 spots. Avila, German, Lambert, and Banks have all gone multiple innings in ST, I’d think at least 2 of that group are on the Opening Day roster.

upnorthsox

Yeah good point on the swing guy, I think they may comb the waiver wires on that too.

Patrick Nolan

Jimmy Ballgame seems like a virtual lock.

fustercluck

that’s German efficiency

Augusto Barojas

I would still probably be inclined to prefer an injured Quintana to a (temporarily) healthy Clevinger and his bad juju. I highly doubt that the Sox are going to be happy they signed Clevinger when all is said and done.

WestEddy

2nd best case scenario is he keeps his head down, takes heed, and does well enough to turn down the qualifying offer.

asinwreck

The rough health week for Old Friends (in addition to Q’s scary lesion, Luis González needs back surgery) makes me grateful that Moncada is not only healthy but is white-hot at the plate for Cuba.

GrinnellSteve

Though he got picked off first today. A good lefty move, but Yoan looked asleep on the play. He stung the ball to get on base.

As Cirensica

And speaking of pitchers, Jose Ruiz has been nothing but sharp in his two outings with the Venezuelan’s team. He is fired up. Good experience for him as he will likely see high leverage situations.

asinwreck

He apparently has an effective changeup. I look forward to seeing how it works during the season.

FishSox

Remind me, but doesn’t Ruiz have a history of fast starts and flameouts?

itaita

Not saying the last year was rough for the Sox but at a glance i thought the headline said “White Sox rotation collapsing”

bobsquad

Jesse Scholtens has looked the most encouraging of the AAA guys, though with no options he will be tough to maneuver on and off of the big league roster. I have him penciled in as the 27th man for doubleheaders and insurance for (God forbid) a serious injury to one of the starting five.

RayHerbert

What about Lambert and Martin? and when Crochet comes back?

bobsquad

All 3 of them have options, so they’re easier to move up and down. If Scholtens is called up, (I think) he would have to be passed through waivers to be sent back to Charlotte.

Patrick Nolan

I’m starting to feel like we’re going to have a good team. I’m doing a lot of fantasy baseball research and every time I think of a Sox player I’m like “wow, that person is really under-ranked right now”. Andrus, Grandal, Moncada, Giolito, Kopech, all have the feel of guys who could blow the projections out of the water. Maybe my roster will be all Sox guys…I already retained Robert as a keeper.

dwjm3

If guys stay healthy it feels like we could win 88-90

LamarHoyt_oncrack

All it would take is for 5 players who missed almost half a season last year to all be healthy and productive simultaneously. And the same with Lynn, Kopech, Clevinger. If everybody stays healthy then it won’t be relevant that that have no major league level backups at any position, including starting pitching. I wouldn’t call it likely, but sure. They could win 88 if it happens.

HallofFrank

Sox fans are too black-and-white in their thinking on the bounceback issue. There are more outcomes than “everyone stays healthy and good” and “2022 all over again.” For example:

  • Eloy and Robert each play 115 healthy games
  • Anderson plays 120+ games
  • Grandal and Moncada are each worth 1.5+ WAR

Per projections and, heck, common sense, these are all disappointing outcomes. It’s probably like the 35% outcome for each player. But they represent enormous improvements over 2022. In other words, they don’t need these players “to all be healthy and productive simultaneously” to be good.

roke1960

I agree. If they’re “all” healthy and productive, they are probably a 90+ win team. Last year was very bad injury-wise, they were saddled with LaRussa as manager, they had by far the worst outfield defense in the majors, and they won 81 games. Having Giolito return to his pre-2022 ways (which has a very good chance of happening) and Lynn being his old self will offset the loss of Cueto and the inevitable backslide of Cease. Losing Abreu’s bat hurts, but having Vaughn at 1st and Benintendi in left is probably better overall than Abreu at 1st and Vaughn in left. I’m starting to be cautiously optimistic- I guess we’ll start finding out in about 2 weeks.

HallofFrank

Yeah. But Giolito is another example where there are shades of useful outcomes. Giolito returning to his pre-2022 ways would be great. But 165 IP of 4 ERA ball still helps.

Holland23

“ Sox fans are too black-and-white”, who can blame us with these club colors!

upnorthsox

Yep it goes with the uniform.

HallofFrank

That’s a t-shirt idea right there: “Be black-and-white in your club colors, not your thinking.”

roke1960

I’m starting to think so also. I think the key guy is Moncada. If he plays with the fire that he seems to be showing for Cuba, maybe we can see 2019 Moncada again. I just think that having no consequences LaRussa as manager the last two years, a lot of guys got lazy. If Grifol can light that fire under Moncada, he can still be an all-star
I think the lineup should be:
Timmy
Yoan
Robert
Eloy
Benintendi
Vaughn
Grandal
Colas
Andrus
If healthy/motivated, that’s a pretty good lineup. And with the starting pitching coalescing, and a lot of options in the pen, they can be very solid.

Last edited 1 year ago by roke1960
As Cirensica

LaRussa as manager the last two years, a lot of guys got lazy.

This 100%. I think the term Jim has used here is “complacent”, but I read it as laziness was treated as a health management strategy, which is bonkers.

GrinnellSteve

I, too, believe Moncada is going to have a big year. I will point out, however, his “fire” hasn’t prevented him from being needlessly thrown out on the bases twice in 5 games. I hope Pedro sits him down when he sees him and goes over the film on those two plays.

roke1960

With Tony, there would have been no consequences to careless baserunning. I doubt very much that will be the same under Grifol.

peanutsNcrackerjack

Agree on this lineup except I’d switch Andrus and Moncada. Until he hits in a White Sox uniform, he’s a glove-first 3rd baseman. Have him hit, run and play heads-up baseball before he gets a place in the front end of the lineup.

(he’s hit in a White Sox uniform)

Andrus has a career OPS+ of 86.
Moncada has a career OPS+ of 107.

Amar

I did that in 2006, good vintage of White Sox fantasy baseball lol

FishSox

Can I ask the obvious and unspoken question, what your results history are as a fantasy mgr? 😁

Last edited 1 year ago by FishSox
Patrick Nolan

Fair

Holland23

WHITE SOX OUTFIELD COLASCING would be a nice follow up headline