White Sox’ Dylan Cease trying to stay level-headed through frustrating start

“It’s a very humbling game,” Cease said as he takes a 4.63 ERA into his major-league-high 14th start Friday, more than double the 2.20 ERA he posted last season, when he finished second in American League Cy Young voting.

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Dylan Cease reacts after throwing a wild pitch and allowing a run to score in a game against the Tigers on June 3.

Dylan Cease reacts after throwing a wild pitch and allowing a run to score in a game against the Tigers on June 3.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

NEW YORK — Dylan Cease takes a 4.63 ERA into his major-league-high 14th start Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field against the Marlins. That’s more than double the 2.20 ERA he posted when he finished second in American League Cy Young voting last season, and Cease’s WHIP and walks and strikeouts per nine innings are also off.

“I’ve definitely had some very frustrating moments with it, but I try to be level-headed,” Cease told the Sun-Times on Thursday. “I haven’t pitched to how I want to, but we still have some time to turn that around.”

High pitch counts have equated to Cease averaging 513 innings per start, but he averaged 523 innings last season while allowing a major-league-high 78 walks. His stuff was so good, the walks didn’t hurt that much. But this season, he’s walking batters at a slightly higher rate, 4.2 per nine innings.

And how to fix that?

“Just trying to focus on my cues, making mechanical adjustments, making sure I’m staying closed, getting pitches where I need to get them,” Cease said.

“If I execute pitches I’m going to go deeper in the game. If I’m not … just a lot of wasted pitches, you know?”

Cease gave up one run and two hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 513 innings in a 2-1 Sox home victory against the Tigers in his last start. In the start before that at Detroit, he needed 102 pitches to get through four innings, allowing four runs, four hits and four walks while striking out eight.

“It’s a challenging game, and if you’re not at the peak of what you’re doing, you better be working at it,” Cease said. “It’s a very humbling game.”

Streakers

Right-hander Kendall Graveman extended his streak of consecutive scoreless appearances to 15 and collected his sixth save, getting Anthony Rizzo to rap into an inning-ending double play, and Keynan Middleton entered Thursday with a streak of 13 games. Both relievers credit the training staff headed by James Kruk for playing a role.

Graveman said the biggest thing for him is that he’s “feeling good and healthy” after working through soreness earlier in the season.

“I think we have one of the better training staffs in the league,” Graveman said.

“We have a great training staff here, it’s amazing,” Middleton said. “They’re wonderful. They cater to you and what you want to do, not always about what they want to do.”

Hendriks playing it safe

Cancer survivor Liam Hendriks indicated he was available Thursday but only in a pinch the day after Wednesday’s game was postponed due to hazardous conditions in the atmosphere from the Canadian wildfires.

“I have to look out for my health with the low immune system and everything that went on yesterday and lingered around last night and this morning. I want to be abundantly safe to make sure it doesn’t affect me for the coming weeks,” Hendriks said.

Before Game 1, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone presented a $10,000 donation from the Yankees to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, recognizing Hendriks, who matched the donation.

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