You can certainly understand White Sox fans’ frustration. When Lucas Giolito isn’t pitching, thanks to injuries or various incompetence, having to suffer through Manny Banuelos or Ivan Nova or earlier Ervin Santana or Dylan Covey (“Dylan Arrieta” according to Fifth Feather) isn’t a great way to extend one’s lifespan. Especially with Dylan Cease sitting at Charlotte, and seemingly putting up numbers that would warrant a look. Certainly a look over the circus clowns that have toed the slab (god I love baseball terminology) for the Sox so far.
Still, if you look at what the Sox have done with their other pitching prospects, it makes perfect sense that Cease isn’t here yet. Between the Cubs and Sox systems, Cease has thrown 336 innings in the minors over parts of five seasons. How much did the others go through? Michael Kopech threw 383 innings in the minors before coming up for brief air last year. Giolito threw 367 in the Nationals system before he got a brief call to DC, and then the Sox piled on another 128 in Charlotte for him upon arriving under their tent for a total just under 500. Reynaldo Lopez had thrown 307 innings in the Nationals system as well before getting his own cameo in the Capital, and then the Sox piled on another 121 in AAA for him after his trade for a total of 428 innings in the minors. So only Kopech has thrown a similar total of innings in the minors to Cease before being called up, and that was just a shade under 50 more innings. Kopech is also now on the shelf, so take that for what it’s worth.
Scouting reports suggest that while Cease is getting the results in Charlotte, the process is still a touch wonky. He’s falling behind in counts and powering through with his fastball, which works there but definitely won’t work in the majors, especially as it gets hotter on the Southside and it returns to its normal air-traffic control disturbance. The other side is that Cease isn’t getting any luck considering the amount of ground-balls he’s giving up, and he might actually benefit from getting to pitch in front of what’s been for now at least a plus-infield defense.
Of course, every pitcher is different and no plan should work for two people. Everyone’s still guessing at this, of course.
Still, it’s a little jarring when Rick Hahn comes out and compares Cease’s promotion timetable to that of Eloy Jimenez’s, because we all know that Jimenez’s was bullshit. Jimenez was ready to be in the majors last year, and probably even pretty close to the start of the season and everyone knew it. The Sox kept him in Charlotte thanks to the CBA and getting another year of control, and guised it as the normal, “Oh he needs to work on his defense (this is left field, people),” or “We just want to make sure he’s ready.”
There are no such concerns with Cease, which makes the comparison to Jimenez pretty weird. The Sox appear to be enacting the same plan with Cease that they have with all their other pitchers, and that’s the story they could easily stick to. And fuck, even with that plan, it took Giolito a full-season and plus to become this. Lopez hasn’t become anything yet, and Kopech has his arm in ice. So maybe they’re figuring it out with the rest of us.
Hahn’s probably on the right track here, he should just avoid mentioning Jimenez when describing that track. Doesn’t really support the argument.