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Time to Cease and desist

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Don’t blame Hahn for being Dylantory

MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day
Savior, delayed: Much like Michael Kopech a season ago, Dylan Cease has hit a midseason speed bump at Charlotte.
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

OK, everybody, knock it off. It’s time to stop getting antsy and start getting worried.

When Paul Sullivan joins the cry to bring Dylan Cease up to the Chicago White Sox, as he did in today’s Trib, you know it’s time to rethink things. And it’s not just because a starting rotation that’s 40% Dylans is cutting other first names out of a chance.

I admittedly lack the technical expertise of some of my cohorts on SSS. After all, I’m old. But have you checked Cease’s performances lately? Even a geezer can take a look at Cease’s June and see something is very, very wrong.

Cease is scheduled to start tonight, so maybe anything said here will be completely outdated by morning and his June work so far will just be one of those little career blips. But if so, it’s a fairly long blip.

Cease has had three June starts. The stats are grim: 10 23 total innings, 10 earned runs, 11 hits, eight walks to six strikeouts. That doesn’t exactly scream “Major League rotation savior.”

We fans definitely need to hope, but the hope shouldn’t be that he joins the White Sox sooner rather than later, but that whatever has happened, it’s temporary. Hope that he’s developed some small hitch in his delivery, or that he’s been working on a new pitch to the exclusion of all the good ones.

And what we really have to hope is that he’s not going under the knife. While having Cease join them would provide Carlos Rodón, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning with a fourth for bridge in the Tommy John post-op room, the implications for him are far grimmer.

New York Yankees
The original, after his stint with the Sox and the surgery that made him famous, playing against the Sox. He had an excellent post-op career, but had to do most of it as a Yankee.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Many, many pitchers recover from Tommy John surgery and have successful careers. More than a quarter of MLB pitchers have had TJS. Any more, only one game out of seven goes by without at least one post-TJS pitcher on the mound.

Serious medical studies, including two done in Chicago (Rush and University of Chicago hospitals), differ on whether pitchers actually get stronger after having their UCL replaced. The difference in opinion appears to come from what period of performance is measured and which statistics are included, but obviously many are doing perfectly well.

The problem is that Cease has been there and done that already, getting his first diagnosed UCL tear in high school. The record on multiple Tommy Johns isn’t good. A study in 2015 showed a third of pitchers who had multiple surgeries made it back to the majors, but their post-op careers tended to be short and not as effective as before the surgery.

Now, in Cease’s case, that just may be a fan’s free-floating anxiety. Three bad games does not a trip to the operating room make. Overwhelming odds are that it’s some minor problem.

There is absolutely no reason to panic. There is also absolutely no reason to think Cease should be brought up to the Sox right away, no matter how much we all love to castigate Rick Hahn for pretty much everything he does or doesn’t do.