When MLB announced the 2022 American League All-Star pitchers, a collective uproar emerged from the South Side of Chicago. One of the most qualified starting pitchers, White Sox ace Dylan Cease, was left off the list.
Cease has been the one pitcher the Chicago White Sox could rely on throughout a trying first half of the season. Statistically, he deserves to be there. Comparing him to selections Nestor Cortes and Paul Blackburn, Cease should have been an All-Star lock. Who’s to blame for this egregious snub?
Rick Hahn and Jerry Reinsdorf
It all starts at the top. The White Sox have sent at least one pitcher to the All-Star Game each year over the past decade, except for the rebuilding seasons of 2017 and 2018. MLB shouldn’t take the blame for overlooking a starter on a third-place team that was already sending one position player and had its closer added as a replacement.
Whether fans like it or not, there are always underlying narratives when it comes to pitcher selections. Are they hurlers from playoff teams? Is there a pitcher option on a team that has no All-Star position players? Does the pitcher play in a big market?
When evaluating these factors, the blame falls on Jerry Reinsdorf and Rick Hahn. The White Sox do not hold a playoff spot at the moment. After winning a weak AL Central division in 2021, the club only made patchwork moves in the offseason.
A lack of offense has cost Dylan Cease wins in games that resulted in no-decisions, and even a loss in which he surrendered just one earned run. Cease ranks near the middle of the pack among regular starters in run support with 4.47 per game, but that figure is ballooned by an 11-0 blowout in the final game before the All-Star break. Add in shoddy defense behind him — the White Sox are tied for second-most errors in MLB — and Cease needs to heavily rely on strikeouts to keep him in the game.
Yes, injuries have ravaged the Chicago White Sox once again this season. Several key bats have also endured extended stretches of underperformance. But at the end of the day, the club’s third-place status all traces back to decisions made by the front office.
The White Sox’s offseason moves entailed allocating most of the already limited funds to the bullpen, leaving other areas of need unproperly addressed. And while past spending is not a concrete predictor of things to come, it does raise the question of Dylan Cease’s future.
With Lucas Giolito enduring his share of struggles this season, the talk has turned away from his extension to Cease’s future contract. Prior to the 2022 season, the White Sox nearly went to arbitration over $50,000 for Giolito’s current contract. That’s appalling for a guy who has been a crucial part of the team’s rebuild and is a key piece of the pitching staff.
Following the 2022 season, Cease will enter his first arbitration year. Had he made the All-Star Game, he would have secured added leverage in bonus and contract negotiations.
Now, the following theory behind Cease not making the All-Star Game may seem ungrounded on the surface.
But considering the White Sox’s stingy track record when it comes to pitcher contracts, is it really that far-fetched?
Until Reinsdorf spends like an owner who wants to win, the Chicago White Sox will always border on mediocrity. In turn, the team’s players will suffer from mediocre league-wide imaging until something changes.
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