Dylan Cease has the skills to be a Cy Young Award candidate one day, his Chicago White Sox teammates say: ‘He’s got the tools to do it, there’s no doubt’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
LaMond Pope, Chicago Tribune
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Liam Hendriks all placed among the top 10 in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2020.

Keuchel finished fifth and Giolito seventh after helping the Chicago White Sox to their first playoff appearance since 2008. Lynn placed sixth while with the Texas Rangers, and Hendriks tied for ninth serving as the Oakland Athletics closer.

Now they’re all on the same staff.

Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal told new pitching coach Ethan Katz he sees a day when another one of the team’s pitchers, Dylan Cease, could be in a Cy Young Award discussion.

“I feel like if we get him to where we see him going, this guy could be a Cy Young finalist,” Grandal said Thursday. “He could possibly be a Cy Young winner. 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 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.”

Cease’s father relayed Grandal’s message in a text.

“That’s as big of a compliment as you can get from somebody,” Cease said Friday. “I’m not putting any extra pressure on (myself). I know what the expectations are. I’m just excited to get out there every day and put in the work to hopefully be able to contribute.”

Cease, 25, went 5-4 with a 4.01 in 12 starts in 2020, his second season in the big leagues.

“Cease, at this point, just with his repertoire and what he’s got, he’s able to survive in the big leagues without a doubt,” Grandal said. “He has the swing-and-miss, he has the pitch capability. Now it’s just a matter of narrowing down and making him more into a pitcher than a thrower.”

Cease had 44 strikeouts but 34 walks in 58 1/4 u2153 innings in 2020.

“Honestly I don’t really feel like I’ve established myself because I haven’t had the successful results I’d like to have,” Cease said. “That’s d a motivating factor, knowing that if I’m able to utilize my stuff, I’ve got a good chance to help the team.”

Cease’s definition of success starts with executing pitches at a high rate.

“I know that as a pitcher, we’re not going to be perfect, but just eliminating the free walks,” he said. “Any time you give the opposing team any extra runners that are unnecessary, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. It’s limiting the little things like that and cleaning up that kind of stuff.”

To that end, he’s focused on his fastball command.

“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,” Cease said.

Cease had a 2.14 ERA in six August starts. But in five September starts, he had a 5.64 ERA. The Sox opted to use him out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the AL wild-card series against the A’s instead of starting him in Game 3.

“It was one of those where I understood it,” he said. “I didn’t really earn a spot there. It is what it is, and all I could do was go into the offseason, talk to Ethan and figure out what needs to be changed.”

Part of Cease’s offseason included drills with a core-velocity belt.

“The biggest thing I worked on was just using my lower half properly, so that’s where the core-velocity belt came in,” he said. “And Ethan sent me a couple drills to do. Basically before every time I threw, I would throw this belt on and try to get a feel with it.”

Sox manager Tony La Russa said Cease has “really connected” with Katz.

“He’s definitely making progress,” La Russa said Friday. “He’s the kind of guy you can’t wait for his next time out there.”

Cease says he’s “very confident right now.”

“This is the best I’ve really felt in a long time,” Cease said. “I want to see how everything plays against hitters first before I really start going farther into that.

“But according to all the data and all the TrackMan stuff, we’re on par with where we need to be. Now it’s just fine-tuning it and executing on a higher level.”

Sign up for our White Sox alerts on your phone, desktop and inbox to stay current with the latest news