Dylan Cease is assured of at least one more start to strengthen his slim American League Cy Young hopes, and he intends to continue improving even with the White Sox out of AL Central title contention.
“I really want to chime home the fastball command,” Cease said after walking three but still managing to pitch six scoreless innings Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Tigers.
Cease lost a chance at a win when Reynaldo Lopez allowed a game-tying double to Victor Reyes in the seventh, but Cease lowered his ERA to 2.06 — second to the Astros’ Justin Verlander (1.82), who leads the AL with an 0.84 WHIP and was tied with Cease and Shane McClanahan for lowest opponents’ batting average (.188) entering play Sunday.
Cease has allowed one earned run or less in 23 of his 31 starts, and his ERA is the second-lowest by a White Sox pitcher over his first 31 starts of a season since 1920.
“I got a lot left in the tank,” Cease said.
With Monday serving as a day off, the Sox could keep Cease on a normal five-day schedule and start him Friday at San Diego, which would line him up for the season finale against the Twins on Oct. 5.
“I’d love to throw as much as I can, but we’ll have to see.”
Cease has no intention of letting up.
“We got to show up and bring it,” Cease said. “It’s still major-league baseball. There is no half-assing it. You got to bring it every day. So I think that’s our plan.”
Long awaited rest for Abreu
Acting manager Miguel Cairo earned a minor victory by persuading slugger Jose Abreu to rest. This marked Abreu’s first game missed since the second game of a May 17 doubleheader at Kansas City.
“Believe me, he would play no matter what,” Cairo said hours before the Sox were mathematically eliminated from American League Central title consideration. “But he needs a day [off].”
Abreu, 35, is one of the Sox’s most productive players in an otherwise disappointing season. He ranked among the league leaders in hits (176), and batting average (.304), in addition to a .377 on-base percentage.
“He’s a hard head, but we love him because he wants to be out there every day,” Cairo said. “And that’s the kind of player you want to have on your team, guys who, no matter what, they want to be in the field.”
Abreu has started 123 games at first base and 27 as the designated hitter.
The Sox were swept for the sixth time, and the third time at home. This marked the Tigers’ first sweep of the Sox since June 15-17, 2018, at Guaranteed Rate Field.