White Sox

Dylan Cease wasn't thrilled with his latest outing, but he keeps progressing


Dylan Cease wasn't thrilled with his latest outing, but he keeps progressing

It looked like a good outing from up here.

Dylan Cease went up against the Houston Astros, arguably the best team in baseball, and came out of things with just two earned runs allowed, on a pair of solo homers, in six innings of work. At one point, he retired 10 batters in a row.

The box score told a slightly different story, with the five walks Cease issued on the day jumping off the page. Two of those walked hitters came around to score the two unearned runs he gave up, both on Welington Castillo passed balls.

Cease himself told a completely different story after the game, his demeanor one of disappointment after his team fell by a 6-2 score in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader.

"I didn't execute pitches that great, but we had a chance to win so that was OK," Cease said after the game. "But I mean, it's hard to be happy with a loss.

"For me, at the end of the day it's how I execute pitches, and I didn't feel like I did it great today. I always judge my outings on that, not necessarily the results because those can be misleading."

After he gave up just two earned runs to a team as good as the Astros in what was the first quality start of Cease's big league career, you might have expected a cheerier response. But Cease is a perfectionist, like the rest of these pitchers. That said, he did show signs of progression Tuesday, even if he wasn't thrilled with the way he pitched.

It looked like it might have been a short day at the office for Cease when George Springer launched Cease's first pitch for a moonshot homer that probably landed somewhere in Michigan City, Indiana. Then Cease put three of the next four hitters on base, loading the bases on an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. But he got an inning-ending double play from Yuli Gurriel, allowing just two base runners over the next four innings.

In a season so geared toward the development of the White Sox young core players, this was a step forward. Even Cease had to agree with his manager, that he's progressing every time he takes the ball.

"It was a nice outing for him," Renteria said. "He’s getting better with every outing. Today was certainly a big one. (Pitching coach Don Cooper) was saying, 'It’s a lot of confidence you showed when you walked (Alvarez) to load the bases in the first.' I have confidence in Dylan Cease, and he made a good pitch to get out of that inning. He’s got good stuff. As he continues to learn to command and execute, he’s going to give himself a chance and put himself in a position where he gets deeper in ballgames."

"I feel like I'm making progress every start," Cease said. "For me, I kind of got a little feel towards the end, ... little things to take into my next sideline. Just keep tweaking that stuff."

All that perfectionism might prove to be useful as Cease continues his development. It might help him become the top-of-the-rotation pitcher he's been hyped to grow into.

Right now, he's a rookie with a 5.54 ERA. But the progress is there, and it keeps coming.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.

What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

Latest rumors

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen


White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

The White Sox added a flamethrower to their bullpen.

Tayron Guerrero is the newest member of the White Sox relief corps, the team claiming the 28-year-old right-hander off waivers from the Miami Marlins on Friday.

Guerrero's most eye-catching attribute is his triple-digit fastball. He averaged 98.9 mph on his four-seam fastball in 2019 and threw the second most 100-mph pitches (178) of any pitcher in baseball. He posted a 10.6 K/9 in 2018.

But throwing hard and giving up runs are two different things. In 2019, Guerrero had a 6.26 ERA, a number that jumped up from the already less-than-ideal 5.43 ERA he turned in a year prior. He also had some trouble locating said fireball, walking 36 batters in 46 relief innings in 2019 for a ridiculously high 7.0 BB/9.

Still, this type of addition was signaled as perhaps the primary way the White Sox would add to their bullpen this offseason. With so many other items on Rick Hahn's offseason to-do list and the back end of the bullpen being a pretty stable part of the roster, the general manager said that small signings and waiver claims would continue to be part of the strategy when it comes to making additions to the relief corps.

Hahn referenced the team's acquisitions of Evan Marshall, who was signed to a minor league contract last winter, and Jimmy Cordero, who was claimed off waivers in the middle of the 2019 season, as moves to emulate going forward.

"All 30 teams will tell you ... that adding more bullpen pieces is an offseason priority, and we're no exception," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference in September. "Cordero's been a nice find, as has been Marshall, but that's not going to stop us from continuing to potentially take guys off waivers like Cordero or (sign) minor league free agents like Marshall.

"It's going to go into this offseason continuing to be a place we want to add because relievers are tricky. You see it every year, guys go from the top of the list to the bottom and back."

As Hahn frequently says, you can never have too much pitching, and while this might be a low-risk move, it could end up proving fruitful, as those Cordero and Marshall moves did.

Spending on money on more proven guys has also been a part of the White Sox strategy in this department in the recent past. Hahn's front office gave Kelvin Herrera a two-year deal just last winter. But as Herrera showed during a rough first year of that contract, even guys with good track records can lead to easy second-guessing on those kinds of deals. So building up depth through less splashy means figures to be a good idea, regardless of the results.

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