White Sox

Why the White Sox haven't called Dylan Cease up to the majors yet

Why the White Sox haven't called Dylan Cease up to the majors yet

The White Sox could use some starting pitching.

In this week’s brief two-game set with the visiting Washington Nationals, the South Siders will start Odrisamer Despaigne and Manny Banuelos, hardly the guys you’d expect to be starting in the thick of a playoff race.

Of course, the White Sox aren’t expected to be in a playoff race when the season gets down to its final days, even if they did wake up Monday morning just three games out of the second wild card spot in the American League. Stranger things have happened, sure, and there are plenty of positives surrounding this team. But the rebuild is still very much in progress, and the White Sox might just be a year away from mounting a serious postseason push.

That reality, however, won’t make a dwindling number of healthy White Sox starting pitchers any less frustrating to watch for fans — the ones not named Lucas Giolito, anyway — nor will it make the loyal legions cease impatiently questioning why the team hasn’t brought its highly touted pitching prospect up from the minor leagues.

Dylan Cease has a 4.10 ERA down at Charlotte, and even if things didn’t go so hot in Sunday’s start, he’s one of the highest rated pitching prospects in baseball. With the White Sox turning to Despaigne and Banuelos as injuries have devastated their starting rotation, fans keep wondering why Cease hasn’t been called upon to plug the holes. The answer won’t make those questioners happy, but it’s the truth as the White Sox continue to keep their sights on the next 10 years rather than the next four months.

“As I've said all along, he's not going to come here necessarily because there's a need in Chicago,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday, “he's going to come here because it's the next step in his development and we feel like he's put himself in the position to succeed, not just survive. He's not too far away. We're getting closer.

“It's a matter of them achieving everything that we set out for them at the given level, whether it's a promotion from A ball to Double-A, like you just saw with Nick Madrigal, or a promotion to the big leagues, as you saw us do with Eloy (Jimenez) and, last year, Michael Kopech.

“We want these guys to be positioned to succeed, to not have to go back, have success when they get here and be able to build off that success for an extended period of time. If that's a matter of waiting another two, three, five, six starts, so be it.

“We're not going to rush these guys.”

White Sox fans should be familiar with this explanation, one Hahn delivered repeatedly throughout the 2018 season in regard to Kopech and Jimenez. But that familiarity hasn’t done anything to alter their patience levels when it comes to Cease, who is getting the same treatment that Kopech and Jimenez did last year from a certain segment of the Twitter-using fan base: They want him up here yesterday.

Now, the White Sox are much better than they were during last year’s 100-loss campaign, which at the very least could explain a belief that Cease would get this team closer to the postseason in 2019. And, Cease has largely avoided the kinds of ugly performances that Kopech turned in for a stretch last season, a bump in the road that he got past to earn his eventual big league promotion. With fewer apparent negatives in the results, fans and observers can more easily ask “what more does this guy have to do?”

But that’s the thing. The White Sox are looking at a lot more than just what shows up in the box score.

“These aren't finished products,” Hahn said. “You read a stat line, you see what they've been doing. A lot more goes into it than just that. But he's a good one and he's getting close.”

One of the things that might have gotten Cease closer to the major leagues was the less-than-ideal start he turned in Sunday, when he got just two outs — and gave up four runs on three walks and a couple hits — before exiting in the first inning. That’s obviously not what fans want to see from the prized prospect, but it’s the kind of learning experience that could get him closer to completing his minor league development.

“Yesterday's start, he was starting Game 2 of a doubleheader. My understanding is that his preparation was affected a little by that in between games,” Hahn said. “Came in and wasn't quite fully ready and didn't have his best stuff. And they made the decision to pull him out when they saw the way the outing was trending.

“Frankly, it's actually a really good developmental day for Dylan Cease yesterday. He learned a lot about what he needs to do in those situations, and he's a smart enough kid that he's going to learn from it.”

And so to those asking “what are they waiting for?” they’re waiting for that, for Cease to go through all the necessary stages of his minor league development. This is a pitcher who didn’t throw above Double-A last season.

But it’s also worth driving home that Cease is not needed at the big league level right now, even if the White Sox have exhausted their starting-pitching depth. He’s needed at the big league level in 2020 and 2021 and 2022 and beyond. The White Sox won’t be calling up Cease early to win a few more games in 2019. Because they want him to win a whole bunch of games in the seasons that follow.

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MLB The Show: White Sox avoid sweep, walk-off division-leading Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox avoid sweep, walk-off division-leading Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Twins, 6-5
Record: 29-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (3.5 GB of Twins)

W: Alex Colome (2-1)
L: Trevor May (0-2)

Game summary: Michael Kopech started for the White Sox on Sunday and was met with trouble immediately. Byron Buxton homered off the flame-throwing righty, and two batters later, Jorge Polanco doubled to bring in Max Kepler and make it 2-0 Twins. The trouble continued for Kopech in the second, as Miguel Sano hit a big fly to the left field bleachers.

The Sox bats came alive in the second, when Yasmani Grandal singled to center to bring in two runs, closing the deficit to one. They scored three runs in the next two innings behind the bats of Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu, who both singled to drive in runs. Jimenez continues to lead the league in RBIs (58) and also leads the league with 22 home runs.

After Alex Colome blew the save in the ninth with a 5-3 lead, the White Sox were in need of a hero in the bottom of the frame. Grandal came up clutch with an RBI single to score Luis Robert, giving the South Siders a 6-5 win to avoid being swept by the division-leading Twins.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 3-5, 2B (.323 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-5, 2 RBI (.276 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-5 (.260 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 0-3, 2 BB (.256 BA)
Jose Abreu: 3-4, RBI, BB (.306 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5 (.296 BA)
Luis Robert: 2-5, 2 2B (.236 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-3, 3 RBI, 2 BB (.319 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-4 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first:

Byron Buxton homered to center field. 1-0 MIN.
Jorge Polanco doubled to right field, Max Kepler scored. 2-0 MIN.

Top second:

Miguel Sano homered to left field. 3-0 MIN.

Bottom second:

Yasmani Grandal singled to center field, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert scored. 3-2 MIN.

Bottom third:

Abreu singled to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 3-3.

Bottom fourth:

Jimenez singled to center field, Grandal and Nomar Mazara scored. 5-3 CHW.

Top ninth:

Eddie Rosario doubled to center field, Mitch Garver scored. 5-4 CHW.
Luis Arraez singled to center field, Rosario scored. 5-5.

Bottom ninth:

Grandal singled to right field, Robert scored. 6-5 CHW.

Notable performance: The White Sox were an offensive juggernaut in May, hitting .301 as a team with 60 home runs and 187 RBIs. They went 17-12 after going 12-19 in the first two months of the season.

Next game: Tuesday, June 2 - Game 61: White Sox at Royals (Lucas Giolito, 3-7, 5.10 ERA vs Brad Keller, 3-5, 4.42 ERA)

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: Twins def. White Sox 10-4
Record: 28-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (4.0 GB of Twins)

W: Rich Hill (4-4)
L: Reynaldo Lopez (5-2)

Game summary: All good things must come to an end. In the case of the White Sox' winning streak, things have come to an abrupt end. A day after the Twins put up 11 runs in the first two innings, Minnesota jumped on Chicago early again.

Reynaldo Lopez failed to make it out of the fourth inning. The Twins harassed him with singles a plenty, including RBI base knocks from Alex Avila and Miguel Sano in the second and fourth innings. Then, the big blow came from Jorge Polanco, whose grand slam gave Minnesota a 7-1 lead before the final out of the fourth. Lopez' day came to an end. 

Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of solo home runs in the third and fifth. Yoan Moncada added a couple more runs on a late two-run blast but the White Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins to fall four games back of the division leaders.

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White Sox lineup

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-3 (.316 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, R (.269 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 2-4, HR (12), 2 RBI, R (.261 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-4 (.261 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-4, 2B (.298 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.298 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-4 (.232 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-4, 2 HR (21), 2 RBI, 2 R (.309 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 0-3 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary: 

Top first

Luis Arraez grounded into double play, Byron Buxton scored. 1-0 MIN.

Top second

Alex Avila singled to right field, Josh Donaldson scored. 2-0 MIN.

Bottom third

Yasmani Grandal homered to left field. 2-1 MIN.

Top fourth

Miguel Sano singled to left field, Eddie Rosario scored. 3-1 MIN.
Jorge Polanco homered to right field, Sano, Max Kepler and Avila scored. 7-1 MIN.
Nelson Cruz homered to center field, Arraez scored. 9-1 MIN.

Bottom fifth

Grandal homered to center field. 9-2 MIN.

Bottom sixth

Yoan Moncada homered to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 9-4 MIN.

Top eighth

Polanco homered to left field. 10-4 MIN.

Notable performance: With his two homers on Saturday, Grandal now has 21 on the season, which trails only teammate Eloy Jimenez for the team lead. Grandal is third in the AL in RBIs (49) and leads the league in WAR (4.5). Not too shabby for the eight-hole hitter.

Next game: Sunday, May 31 - Game 60: Twins vs White Sox (Devin Smeltzer, 6-2, 2.42 ERA vs Michael Kopech, 0-0, 3.78 ERA)

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