Dylan Cease's rookie season has had plenty of growing pains, but Friday's start against the Tigers may have been his best in the majors.
Yes, the Tigers have the worst record in baseball, but Cease will take them however he gets them at this point. The 23-year-old struck out eight while giving up one run in six innings in a 10-1 White Sox win.
Cease has now given up one run in each of his last three starts. That stat is a bit misleading, though, because he only lasted 3 1/3 innings on Sept. 8 against the Angels. In that game, Cease walked five and gave up four hits, but was able to limit the damage.
On Friday, Cease had a 1-2-3 first inning and pitched around a leadoff double in the second inning. A leadoff walk and two singles in the third inning led to the only run Cease allowed on the night.
In the final three innings Cease struck out five, didn't allow any walks and gave up two hits. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 24 batters he faced, which is important for a pitcher who has struggled with his command this year both in Triple-A and the majors.
We greatly enjoyed this Dylan Cease outing pic.twitter.com/0DdgleGhPI
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) September 21, 2019
In four starts in September, Cease has a 3.00 ERA with 28 strikeouts, 12 walks and 16 hits allowed in 21 innings. He's not consistently going deep into games yet and his command remains something to improve on, but that stretch is definitely something to build on for Cease.
His overall numbers (5.79 ERA, 81 strikeouts, 35 walks, 78 hits, 15 home runs in 73 innings) leave a lot to be desired, but the White Sox didn't need (and probably didn't expect) Cease to dominate as a rookie. This isn't a contending White Sox team. However, the hope for next year is that the team will start to approach that status. Having Cease show signs of growth and progress late in 2019 so he can be closer to the standout pitcher they believe he can be in 2020 is important.
As 2019 winds down and thoughts of 2020 become more prominent for the White Sox front office and fan base, games like Friday are what everyone will be expecting to see on a regular basis. Cease racking up strikeouts with a quality start and the offense being led by Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. Jimenez had a grand slam and finished a double shy of a cycle, Moncada reached base three times and homered and Anderson had two more hits to take another step toward the AL batting title.
Sure, it's just the Tigers, but this game was a blueprint for what White Sox wins in the future are expected to be built around.