White Sox fans aren’t the only ones thrilled that Dylan Cease is coming to the South Side.
“Very excited,” Lucas Giolito said after Sunday’s game. “We've been chatting a lot this year, bouncing ideas back and forth, talking pitching, talking life and I'm excited to see what he's going to bring for us on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it, absolutely.”
Yes, the White Sox themselves share in the hype every time one of the organization’s top prospects reaches the major leagues, a natural reaction to a roster getting an influx of talent and the franchise taking another step toward contention in its ongoing rebuilding process. Cease is no exception, the No. 18 prospect in baseball who’ll make his major league debut in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.
Cease, acquired alongside Eloy Jimenez in the Crosstown trade that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs, set White Sox fans’ imaginations on fire with a dominant 2018 campaign that featured a 2.40 ERA and 160 strikeouts. Everyone noticed, and MLB Pipeline made him their pick for the minor league pitcher of the year. So Cease went from another guy fighting for a spot in the rotation of the future to a potential ace.
And that meant White Sox fans wanted him up here stat, treating him with the same level of patience they exhibited for Michael Kopech a year earlier.
Well, the waiting — the hardest part, according to Mr. Petty — is over. Cease’s arrival adds another piece of the White Sox core to the major league roster, and that group is getting larger and larger: Cease joins Jimenez, Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Zack Collins as core pieces at the big league level.
That’s a big deal for this rebuild, which could see the shift to contention mode come as early as the 2020 season. Getting Cease three months of big league action ahead of that transition is valuable stuff for a 2020 rotation that looks to include Giolito, Kopech and Cease.
And though Collins is here, who will be handling the bulk of the catching duties for that 2020 rotation? Probably James McCann, the 29-year-old who just got named to his first All-Star team in his first season on the South Side. He’s under team control for another season, and if he can keep doing in the second half what he’s done in the first half, he’ll be considered a part of that core, too.
“I actually caught his first bullpen in spring training, and I was surprised to find out he was only 23,” McCann said of Cease on Sunday. “How poised he was and his routine, he didn't act like a young kid, he acted like he had been around the block a couple times.
“So I'm excited. I know his stuff is elite, his stuff is there. I know he's going to be able to grow and mature at this level.”
Who knows if McCann will be assigned to catch Cease or not. Not only did Collins work with Cease at Triple-A Charlotte, but there are two games Wednesday, meaning both catchers will likely get a start. Ross Detwiler is starting Game 2, and McCann caught him in his first start with the team Friday.
But regardless of the battery combo in Cease’s debut, the excitement level will still be through the roof at Guaranteed Rate Field. And the feelings in the dugout will match those in the stands.