Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease has been a little off lately.
Cease’s lack of command has led to a stack of walks, but he will try to bounce back against the Texas Rangers on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas.
The White Sox (83-63) won two of three against the visiting Boston Red Sox last weekend, then lost two of three to the visiting Los Angeles Angels this week, but they still hold an 11-game lead in the American League Central with 16 games to go.
Chicago lost 9-3 on Thursday in the series finale against the Angels, committing three errors along the way.
“It just wasn’t our best game of the year, that’s for sure,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “But hitting, by the time you think you’re hot, the next day you’re not. Just stay after it, turn a page, get ready for (Friday).”
Chicago’s big lead in the AL Central should allow La Russa to be patient with Cease and give him wiggle room to correct any flaws that have crept into his delivery following his shortest outing of the season on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.
Cease (11-7, 4.22 ERA) walked five batters in 2 2/3 innings during a game the White Sox lost 9-8 in 10 innings. He was tagged for seven runs and four hits.
“I think a lot of it was just the little things, like not keeping my eyes on the target the whole time,” said Cease, who has walked 16 in 26 2/3 innings over his past five starts. “I don’t think it’s anything major. I think it’s the little fine details of something as simple as that.”
On the positive side, Cease struck out five on Saturday to give him 202 strikeouts on the season, making him the 10th pitcher in White Sox history to fan at least 200 in a season. He joined Chris Sale, Ed Walsh, Lucas Giolito, Gary Peters, Javier Vazquez, Wilbur Wood, Tom Bradley, Esteban Loaiza and Alex Fernandez.
Cease has made two appearances in his career against the Rangers and is 1-0 with a 4.82 ERA. He tossed 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision vs. Texas on April 23, allowing two runs and three hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
Cease will be up against left-hander Taylor Hearn, who has won each of his past four starts.
Hearn (6-4, 3.99) most recently beat the Athletics, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings of 4-3 win on Sunday in Oakland. He fanned two without issuing a walk.
“He looks like a legit, top-end, big-league starting pitcher,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “You talk to him, same thing. He is calm and in control every time. … He is arguably the biggest success on the year, the way I look at it.”
Hearn said he is relying less on getting strikeouts and more on producing quick outs through contact.
“I know at times, (the strikeouts) will come,” he said. “But I think that is a testament to all the stuff that we’ve been working on to try to get teams off the fastball, so I can really get early contact and get outs, like what I (did Sunday).”
–Field Level Media