What’s next for Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease after a stellar 2022 season? ‘I feel even more motivated’ – The Mercury News


Dylan Cease emerged as one of the best pitchers in the American League last season, finishing second in American League Cy Young Award voting.

What’s next for the Chicago White Sox right-hander?

“I’ve always felt the same where I expect a lot from myself and I just want to keep growing and keep it up,” Cease said last week at Camelback Ranch. “I’m definitely not just running last year and this year and saying I don’t have to try or something like that.

“I feel even more motivated to try to be as good, if not better, than last year.”

Cease put it all together in 2022, going 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 32 starts. He was second in the AL in ERA, strikeouts, and opponents average (. 190) and third in strikeouts per nine innings (11.1).

His season included a 14-game stretch from May 29 to August 11, in which he allowed an earned run or none, becoming the first major league starter (not counting firsts) since 1913 to accomplish the feat.

“There’s still a lot of growth in my mind with him,” said Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz. “From 21 he took a big step. At 22, he took another big step. He’s a very talented kid and we’re going to look to keep progressing and keep challenging him with new information and new things so that he keeps growing as a pitcher.

“He picks up a lot of stuff and retains it and manages to apply it quickly. It makes it much easier on the technical side.”

Cease, 27, said he walked into the camp feeling physically “great”.

“I feel more confident in the sense that I don’t feel like I have to pitch 98 (mph) on my first (spring) outing,” Cease said. “I can take it easy and focus on command and acceleration. At the end of the day, I trust it will be there.

“My body and arm feel great, so that’s the most important thing. Now the most important thing is just to look at my speeds and make sure I’m where I need to be and make sure I’m not too low or too high at this point.

Katz said Cease is “on schedule”.

“We just want to make sure we’re not overloading him too soon with the last two years where he’s been able to shoot every five days, catch the ball and make about 100 shots at a time,” Katz said. “Right now we’re working on trying to distill a lot of things with him that we want to make sure he stays on track with controlling hitters, controlling the run game.

“So he’s working on all these things, but once we get into the game scenarios, these things will be talked about a lot.”

Cease spent the offseason working on his move.

“That was probably the biggest difference,” he said. “Just focusing on that and following the same process.”

He’s also focusing on command after leading the leagues with 78 walks last season.

“Another thing is, as I’m getting older, I’m realizing that getting to the next level of pitching has to be with commands and not things,” Cease said. “I’ve always had the material, but now it’s just a case of molding it and using it in the best possible way.

“Hiking, yes, it’s the most important thing, but just running in general. I felt like I had a lot of games where I really didn’t perform that well. I kind of worked in jams and it was harder than I really needed to be if I just threw punches and charged forward, which everyone is trying to do. It’s easier said than done. I just want to be more consistent in my high command and stuff.

After the breakthrough in 2022, Cease no longer feels pressure to show he can do it again.

“I’m just treating it the same,” Cease said. “I show up and try to take as many shots as I can and just maximize my skills and whatever happens.

“So far I’ve done a good job of growing each year, so maybe this year it’s the change and the added fastball command. We hope to see similar results.”

Sox agree terms with 20 players

The Sox have agreed to 20 players on 2023 contracts, the team announced on Friday.

The roster includes pitchers AJ Alexy, Nick Avila, Tanner Banks, Garrett Crochet, Matt Foster, Frank German, Jimmy Lambert, Davis Martin, Nick Padilla, Gregory Santos and Jonathan Stiever, catchers Carlos Pérez and Seby Zavala, infielders Jake Burger , Romy Gonzalez , Bryan Ramos, José Rodríguez, Lenyn Sosa and Andrew Vaughn and outfielder Gavin Sheets.

Vaughn signed for $760,000. Sheets and Lambert signed for $735,000.

All players on the team’s 40-man roster have agreed to terms for 2023.


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