While the Bears were drafting their franchise quarterback, Dylan Cease was in the midst of his best start of the season. The Chicago White Sox gave him plenty of run support, which he didn’t need this time in an 11-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday to complete the doubleheader sweep.
This is what Cease looks like at his best. Sure, it came against the Tigers, but the mentality and off-speed pitches he showed on Thursday would work against any team. He threw a complete game shutout (albeit in seven innings), giving up three hits, striking out eight batters and walking none. Cease pounded the strike zone to finish at 91 pitches, making it a real possibility he would’ve returned for the eighth inning in a normal game.
He didn’t try to dance around batters during two-strike counts, rather attacked hitters by throwing 66 strikes (72.5%). Cease’s slider elicited half of his 16 swings-and-misses, but his curveball was the story of his start. It was his final pitch to strike out Willi Castro to end the game, and he threw it 14 times to record three whiffs. Before Thursday, Cease threw his curveball just 29 times through his first 20 1⁄3 innings.
This won’t quell all of the doubts surrounding Cease, but it’s finally a start he can build on and hopefully maintain the momentum moving forward. He finished with a game score of 85.
Here’s a breakdown of his start:
Matthew Boyd exited the game after 36 pitches due to left knee tendinitis. He relied heavily on his 4-seam fastball — he threw it 45% of the time this season, but it made up 62% of his pitches on Thursday — and the White Sox took advantage. They had a 96.1 mph average exit velocity against the pitch, with José Abreu and Andrew Vaughn each getting a base hit that exited their bat at over 100 mph. Boyd allowed three hard-hit balls in his short start.
The White Sox put multiple runners on base in each of the first two innings, and looked poised to drive Boyd out of the game early, anyway. His final stat line ended at two earned runs on three hits, a walk and two strikeouts over one inning. Boyd’s game score was 34.
Here’s how Boyd’s 36-pitch outing broke down:
Fastest pitch: Michael Fulmer narrowly beat Cease with a 98.2 mph heater, but Andrew Vaughn hit a single on the pitch. Cease touched 98 mph twice in his start.
Most swing-and-misses: Cease had 15 whiffs, compared to Fulmer’s 10 to lead the Tigers.
The game quickly got out of hand, so the highest pressure play came in the first inning. Yermín Mercedes stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs, and he flew out to right field. It had a 2.02 LI.
Boyd faced the most individual pressure (1.39 pLI) due to allowing multiple base runners in both innings he pitched. The White Sox put the leadoff man on in both the first and second innings.
Luis Robert had the most individual pressure for the White Sox, with a 0.77 pLI. He finished 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts.
Vaughn doubled to move Yasmani Grandal to third base in the second inning. It was the start to a four-run inning, and Vaughn’s extra-base hit clocked in with a .125 WPA.
Cease takes home the honors as the game’s top performer with 0.202 WPA.
Sheeeeesh pic.twitter.com/sQ2ogmn4Xh— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 30, 2021
Luckiest hit: Nick Madrigal barely beat Detroit reliever Tyler Alexander to first base in the sixth inning to record an infield single. He had a .100 xBA on the hit, to first baseman Jonathan Schoop.
Toughest out: Not many players were robbed of base hits in the nightcap, but Grandal’s fifth-inning ground out into the shift had a .670 xBA. He smoked the ball at 106.8 mph.
Hardest hit: Abreu hit a 112.9-mph single with two outs in the first inning. He moved Tim Anderson to third base, but Mercedes flew out to right field to end the threat in the next at-bat.
Weakest contact: Mercedes hit a ball back to the mound to end the second inning. It traveled at 42.1 mph, but don’t worry, he made up for his weak contact later ...
Longest hit: Mercedes can’t stop demolishing baseballs. He hit a 449-foot home run that landed in the center field shrubbery in the fifth inning, a rocket that left his bat at 110.8 mph.
Magic Number: 6
The White Sox finished with 11 hard-hit balls, including six during a seven-run fifth inning. They sent 10 batters to the plate, as four at-bats ended with exit velocities above 105 mph. This is a look at the exit velocities from that inning (a hard-hit ball is any ball hit 95 mph or harder).
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was the White Sox MVP in the doubleheader nightcap?
This poll is closed
Dylan Cease: 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 9 K, 0.202 WPA
Andrew Vaughn: 3-for4, 2 2B, .141 WPA
Yoán Moncada: 2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K, -.004 WPA
Leury García: 2-for-4, 3 RBI, SO, .083 WPA
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat in the doubleheader nightcap?
This poll is closed
Luis Robert: 1-for-4, RBI, 2 K, -.068 WPA
Tim Anderson: 1-for-5, 4 K, -.004 WPA
Yasmani Grandal: 0-for-2, 2 BB, K, .041 WPA
South Side Sox Gamethread Stats
steely3000 with the opener win and nightcap shutout; AnoHito swoops in for the win, in a squeaker:
Sixes were wild when it came to winning recs in the twinbill. A split of six marked the opener, ditto the nightcap — and RSWS was part of both wins.