Cease will pitch Game 1 against the Tigers during Wednesday’s split doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field. James McCann will be behind the plate to handle the highly-touted hard-thrower, and while there will be some sort of set pitch count in mind, the eye test as to how Cease is throwing also will be taken into consideration.
The rest, as they say, will be history in the making.
“It’s going to be memorable no matter what,” said manager Rick Renteria of Cease. “We hope he has a nice afternoon tomorrow and [we'll] continue to work from there.”
“Obviously a guy that throws really hard. He's under control,” said Zack Collins, who frequently caught Cease with Triple-A Charlotte. “He's obviously really calm out there. That's his thing. He's got four plus pitches, and obviously, we can expect a lot from them.”
With Cease officially joining the 25-man-roster Wednesday, he was in Chicago on Tuesday, but not in the home clubhouse. So, it was up to his teammates and manager to talk about what he has to offer.
Renteria said that the time was right to bring Cease to the Majors, even though he has allowed 16 earned runs over his last 17 1/3 innings. In fact, those brief struggles with the Knights might have been an indication of the need for a new challenge.
He might not be perfect in his debut Wednesday, with butterflies being a natural side effect until Cease gets going on the mound. But his stuff absolutely will play at the big league level, and should play very well moving forward.
“Easy high 90s. Like 99, 100-mph -- super, super easy. Power curveball with a ton of break,” said White Sox ace Lucas Giolito of Cease, who was acquired from the Cubs as part of the 2017 Jose Quintana trade. “The stuff is out of this world. It's just a matter of being consistent, getting it over the plate. He has the ability to do all those things. It's just a matter of him coming out and competing to the best of his ability, which I know he'll do.”
“No matter if he's doing great or doing horrible, he's pretty much the same guy out there,” Collins said. “He stays focused and he does all his mental stuff before the game. He'll be prepared and you won't see many emotions out there.”
The promotion allows Cease to start his career against the Tigers, with his next start possibly not coming until the team arrives in Kansas City during the second leg of a 10-game road trip to start the second half for the South Siders. It’s the same sort of excitement level as the 2018 debut for Michael Kopech, who faced Minnesota, Boston and Detroit (twice) before being shut down and undergoing Tommy John surgery. That duo, along with Giolito, Collins, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada, to name a few, show that the bright future of this rebuild doesn’t appear too far away.
“We're all down there, and not that we expect to be up here, but it's our main goal,” Collins said. “We all want to be here as soon as possible.”
“Absolutely. We've been waiting for this one. Especially with the whole thing with Michael last year, coming up, doing well, and then having to get Tommy John surgery,” Giolito said. “This is another step in the right direction for us as an organization. I'm personally super excited because it's another starting pitcher, a guy a little bit younger than me that I might be able to have an impact on.”