Cease's gem upended by comebacker in win

X-rays negative on right-hander, who suffered a right triceps contusion

September 25th, 2021

Even after a 1-0 victory over the Indians on Friday night at Progressive Field, the White Sox were holding their breath after right-hander Dylan Cease was struck on the pitching arm by a 110.4-mph comebacker.

Cease was dealing. His slider and changeup were unhittable. But he left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after he was hit on the arm by a line drive off the bat of Bradley Zimmer. The X-rays came back negative, and he was diagnosed with a right triceps contusion.

Cease strongly believes he will be able to make one more start before the postseason, with the AL Division Series scheduled to begin on Oct. 7.  

“It could have been a lot worse. I think it’s fine,” he said.

Before the injury, Cease was having one of his best outings of the season. He held Cleveland scoreless over 5 1/3 innings and struck out nine batters.

“It was one of those nights where I had four pitches working,” Cease said. “You can’t ask for much more. I felt I was cruising. … As far as executing pitches, it was one of my better games, for sure.”

White Sox manager Tony La Russa was impressed by what he saw from Cease.  

“He understands what a little adjustment is. He takes it out there and makes it,” La Russa said. “A lot of it has to do with how competitive he is, how much he likes to get hitters out. He likes the game between [the] hitter and [the] pitcher, and he rises to the occasion.”

After getting Oscar Mercado to pop up for the first out of the sixth inning, Zimmer came to the plate and hit a line drive off Cease's arm for a base hit.

Cease was clearly in pain, but he managed to get up and appeared to talk his way into staying in the game. But La Russa told Cease, “It wasn’t worth the risk,” and made the decision to pull Cease, calling on right-hander Ryan Burr to replace him.

Cease agreed with the decision. He said his arm “felt heavy.”  

“I tried to throw the warmup pitches just to see if [the arm] would relax, one of those things I can throw through,” Cease said. “It was pretty apparent I wasn’t able to [keep going]. It was the right decision.”

Cease ended up being credited with his 13th win of the season thanks to Luis Robert, who hit a fifth-inning home run off Indians right-hander Trevor Stephan.

“The pitcher made a mistake,” La Russa said. “We didn't have too many mistakes to hit today. But [Robert] got one there. They pitched us very well. We pitched them very well. That’s why [the score was] 1-0.”

The run proved to be enough because the bullpen was nearly unhittable, striking out seven batters across 3 2/3 shutout innings. Liam Hendriks capped the phenomenal night for the relief corps, picking up his 35th save of the season after tossing a 1-2-3 ninth against the heart of the Cleveland lineup.

If Friday night’s performance by Chicago’s bullpen is any indication of what they could bring to the postseason, the team could be playing well into October.

“You are looking at one of the strongest parts of our club,” La Russa said. “The back end of the bullpen is one of them. I think they will do really well. The key is, we have to get the lead. The starters have to do their job, [and] the offense and defense have to play well. All these [relievers] are legitimate. We have weapons.”