Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease will face the organization that drafted him when he goes up against the host Chicago Cubs on Sunday evening.
The White Sox are looking to secure a three-game sweep against their crosstown rivals after posting an 8-6 win in 10 innings Friday and a 4-0 win Saturday. This is the first series of the season between the teams, who are scheduled to play three more games against one another in late August when the White Sox will serve as host.
Cease (8-6, 3.92 ERA) is scheduled to face the Cubs for the third time in his career and is 0-2 with a 5.91 ERA in the first two games. He was the Cubs’ sixth-round pick out of Milton (Ga.) High School in 2014 and climbed through the farm system with his eye on the big leagues.
However, Cease’s focus shifted from the North Side to the South Side when the Cubs dealt him to the White Sox before the 2017 trade deadline. He was part of a trade package that included Eloy Jimenez, Bryant Flete and Matt Rose in for veteran left-hander Jose Quintana.
Much has changed for both organizations since that trade.
The Cubs, who then were less than a year removed from a World Series championship, now find themselves in rebuilding mode after dealing Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel during the past month. Meanwhile, the once-rebuilding White Sox now sit in first place with hopes of capturing their first title since 2005.
Cease has been a key part of the starting rotation that has led the White Sox’s success this season. The 25-year-old has 149 strikeouts in 114 2/3 innings, both career highs, and opponents are hitting .227 against him.
He is coming off one of his best starts of the season on Tuesday night. He limited the Kansas City Royals to one hit in six scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out 11, matching a career high, in the 7-1 Chicago win.
Despite the dominant effort, Cease still saw room to improve after throwing 63 of 103 pitches for strikes.
“I kind of wasted a lot of pitches,” Cease said. “But, yeah, finished strong. It means a lot to me, and it’s solid. That last inning, I felt like I was definitely in control of where the ball was going. It’s hard to beat that.”
The Cubs will counter with right-hander Zach Davies (6-8, 4.79), who is set to make his 24th start this season. Davies hopes to bounce back from a bumpy start at Coors Field in Colorado, where he gave up seven runs on six hits and two walks in four innings on Tuesday.
This will be Davies’ first career matchup against the White Sox. He has made 146 career starts, all in the National League, with the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and Cubs.
One player who will try to provide Davies with run support for the Cubs is Patrick Wisdom. He has enjoyed a breakout season (.263, 16 homers, 32 RBIs in 64 games) but has struggled to maintain the pace.
“(I’ve) just kind of simplified a lot of things,” Wisdom said. “I caught myself chasing hits, chasing contact, chasing the pitchers’ out pitches. So I just have to get back to what I know I can do and just keep it simple.”
–Field Level Media