HomeTrending MLB NewsFlyover Country: DRA vs. Dylan Cease

Flyover Country: DRA vs. Dylan Cease

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Image credit: © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 season was abysmal for the Chicago White Sox. It blew up on them so completely and so violently that even Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams, safely ensconced with the team for over two decades, were thrown out. As a result, they entered this offseason with a mandate to make big changes. Newly promoted GM Chris Getz faces the task of disassembling this failed would-be hegemon and trying to build a new one before his own time runs out. In the early going, it seems like his best chance to accelerate the construction process is to trade Dylan Cease.

 

Almost everyone likes Cease. He’s been as durable as any starting pitcher in baseball for the last half-decade. He takes the ball every fifth day, as reliably as anyone. He’s not just an old-fashioned, quantity-over-quality plow horse, though. With a nasty repertoire that includes a high-rising fastball, a devastating slider, a curve, and a split-change, Cease has racked up at least 214 strikeouts in each of the last three seasons. He’s a frontline starter, almost by consensus.

 

You know who hates Dylan Cease, though? It’s DRA. As Cease’s top-line results took a huge step backward in 2023, most onlookers and some value metrics shrugged dismissively. Not DRA. It went from evaluating Cease as that surefire frontline guy (with DRA- marks of 85 and 80 in 2021 and 2022, respectively) to labeling him a below-average innings sponge in 2023, with a 108 DRA-. As the Sox shop their ace, we might benefit from taking sides in the debate between DRA and the rest of the baseball world.

 

Here’s the unusual thing about Cease: He’s a strictly vertical guy who still walks everyone. Of the pitches he threw this season that were called balls, only 16.1% missed wide, but not high or low. That’s the third-lowest percentage, out of 147 qualifying pitchers, and most of the guys who hang out in the same range as Cease on that particular leaderboard throw a lot more strikes. In fact, here are the 15 guys whose misses are least concentrated in the spaces off the edges, but instead of showing those numbers, these are their overall Called Strike Probability (CSProb) and walk rates for the season.

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