The six game homestand against the AL West did not get off to the best of starts over the weekend. The Sox were only able to take one game against the Athletics and their offense could only muster three runs. They were shutout in two of the three games. Oakland is a very good team but nothing compared to what the Sox will face the next three days, the Houston Astros.
Dylan Cease is on the bump for game one in what will be his biggest test in his young career. He currently has a 5.03 FIP and a K/9 at 9.0 and BB/9 at 4.09. The results have not been there overall but it has been better the last two games with back-to-back games of Game Score 50 and over. However, the main positive aspect of his first six starts is how good those pitches look, that fastball and breaking pitches look like the real deal even if the results do not reflect that, yet.
The fastball is average 96 MPH with good movement and the curveball, for the type he is throwing, has elite movement. In inches of vertical movement vs the average, Cease’s curve is at 9.2 inches, second in all of baseball (only behind Trevor Bauer). Though his slider does not get as much fanfare, it also has a ton of vertical movement andit has been his best pitch so far.
But there should be some cause for some concern for Cease against the Astros. As a team, let me remind you, as a team, they have an OPS+ of 120, tops in MLB. Only three White Sox players have a 120 OPS+ or higher, Tim Anderson (120), Ryan Goins (125), and Yoan Moncada (133), which says a lot about this team’s offense. For where it might be concern for Cease, here are the OPS+ of his opponents: Detroit Tigers (78 and MLB worst); Kansas City Royals (88); Tampa Bay Rays (100); New York Mets (102); and the Minnesota Twins (117). The closest OPS+ to the Astros, the Twins, tagged Cease for the worst start of his career.
Meanwhile, the Sox are against the Astros. A superteam and got a huge boost at the deadline with Zack Greinke. Not a lot needs to be said about this team. They are clearly the best team in baseball. They have the best offense, they have fantastic pitching with the 4th best ERA+ in MLB, and they have great superb defense with the 4th best defensive runs saved in MLB. In a word, dominance, and the White Sox somehow split a four-game series against them back in May. Maybe the Sox can get lucky again, or maybe the rain will help prolong the inevitable?