Never Cease to Amaze

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Never Cease to be amazing, and the 26-year-old hard throwing righty has been doing just that in the month of June. Dylan Cease was named American League pitcher of the month, coming off a spectacular month. In 27 1/3 innings pitched over five starts in the month of June, Cease recorded a 0.33 ERA including 45 strikeouts and limiting opponents to a .192 batting average and a .545 OPS.

While he didn’t have his best stuff in his first July outing versus the Giants on Saturday, he was still able to notch the win. Cease gave up a leadoff homer to LaMonte Wade Jr. and fell behind in counts early on, but was able to battle back against a lefty-heavy Giants lineup, holding them to just one run. On June 26, Cease fanned 13 batters in a brilliant Sunday afternoon performance, reaching a new career-high. Cease has worked on his efficiency; as of Sunday morning, he’s tied for third in the majors for the most 3-pitch strikeouts, with 22. He’s also struck out 121 batters over his first 15 starts of 2022, the third-most strikeouts by a White Sox pitcher in his first 15 starts of a season.

Still a work in progress, Cease’s fastball command has been something that he’s been working on improving the past few seasons. High spin plus high velocity has helped him earn more strikes. Cease’s fastball averages 96.8 MPH, and works as a fantastic primary pitch, but his slider has functioned as a wonderful secondary and might be his best pitch; it’s limited hitters to a .139 average, and .132 xBA, and has a remarkable 47.1% whiff rate and 32.8% PutAway%, contributing to an absolute elite 34.3% strikeout rate.

If there was a question on whether he’d reach his 2021 strikeout total of 226, he’s certainly on pace to knock that career record out of the water. With 125 strikeouts so far and a handful of starts left before the All-Star break, his strikeout upside looks even better than before.

Notable Performances

Julio Rodríguez became the first player in MLB history to reach 15+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases, all within 81 games played. The last players to do so were Ellis Burks, who did it in 82 games, and Barry Bonds, who reached this accolade in 90 games. He’s earned an admirable .275/.335/.489 triple-slash line in 334 plate appearances, including 15 homers, 43 RBI, and 20 steals.

On Friday, Nolan Arenado became the first Cardinal to hit for the cycle since Mark Grudzielanek did so in 2005. He hit an RBI triple in the first inning; he then followed the hardest aspect of the cycle with a two-run homer in the third. A double in the sixth and a single in the eighth would finish the cycle build. There have been no brakes on this cycle; Arenado is pedaling to a .290/.352/.539 line, wheeling along with 17 homers, 55 RBI, and 20 doubles.

Marcus Semien has certainly improved in the month of June. He got off to a slow start earlier this season, where he hit a chilly .157 in April, but slashed .287/.331/.519 in 118 plate appearances in June, including seven homers and 15 RBI. In his last seven games, he’s slashing .345/.364/.724, with two steals, three homers, and seven RBI.

Sandy Alcantara earned his 10th straight start, lasting seven innings or longer on Wednesday. He’s been quite the workhorse of the Marlins rotation, and leads the major leagues in innings pitched, at 115 1/3. He also leads the major leagues in bWAR, at 4.4. With as many innings he’s pitched, he also has maintained a 1.95 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.

Robbie Ray is back, with two solid performances this week. On Sunday afternoon in Seattle, the 30-year-old southpaw struck out a season-high 12 batters, picking up the win. On Tuesday, Ray picked up his second no-decision in a row. The lefty hurler pitched seven innings of one hit, shutout ball to keep the Mariners in the game early. The southpaw racked 17 swings and misses, eight on his sinker and six on his slider, to contribute to a 33% CSW on all pitches. In his last five starts, he has a 0.80 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 33 2/3 innings pitched.

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Injury Report

Anthony DeSclafani is out for the rest of the season; he’s set to undergo surgery on his right ankle on Tuesday to repair the injury. The right hander had already missed two months, and the injury was aggravated again during his two starts earlier this season. He will miss the rest of the 2022 season, but should be healthy by Spring Training 2023.

Jack Flaherty landed back on the injured list Monday with a right shoulder strain. He will be limited to physical therapy for the next couple weeks before being re-evaluated; it’s unlikely he’ll begin throwing until after the All-Star break. The 26-year-old righty missed the first two months of the season due to shoulder inflammation. At this point, it’s unclear when he’ll return to the Cardinals rotation at this point.

Jazz Chisholm has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right lower back strain. The 24-year-old star was removed from Tuesday's game after aggravating his existing back issue. He is expected to be on the shelf for about two weeks. He’s slashing .254/.325/.535 on the season, including 14 homers, 45 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.

Honor Roll

Charlie Morton (7 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 10 K on Sunday), J.T. Realmuto (2-for-4, HR (6), 2 RBI, R, SB (11) on Sunday), Matt Carpenter (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR (7, 8), 4 RBI on Saturday), George Kirby (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K on Saturday), Willy Adames (2-for-6, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB on Friday), Joe Ryan (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K on Friday), Yusei Kikuchi (6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K on Thursday), Patrick Wisdom (3-for-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, SB on Thursday), Amed Rosario (4-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R, BB, SB on Wednesday), Taijuan Walker (7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 K, 2 BB on Wednesday), Josh Harrison (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB on Tuesday), Patrick Corbin (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 12 K on Tuesday), Adam Wainwright (7 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 9 K on Monday), Adley Rutschman (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI on Monday)

That concludes yet another eventful Week that Was – join us next week as we recall more updates and stories from around Major League baseball.