“Man, there won’t be a home run today.”
Those were the famous last words of Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito after Dylan Seth predicted that Tim Anderson would play at Wrigley Field last week.
Giolito’s argument makes perfect sense.
It was cold and rainy, with 23-mph winds blowing from the north for the opening race of the City Series. At the start of the third inning, Anderson faced Keegan Thompson, who didn’t hit a homer in the 17⅔ innings going into the inning.
But Cease wasn’t deterred.
“I trust him,” Hughes told Giolito. “I’m going to ‘Home run Sloan (sign) in right field. Oppo home run.'”
Anderson quickly caught a cutting fastball in the first game and sent it out in a Sloan ad in right field. As the Red Sox players celebrated, Hughes shook his head.
“I’m dead now as a legend,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”
This serendipitous moment was recorded on video for posterity, and the Red Sox may have to enter a 2022 time capsule if they make it to the World Series. Cease had recorded the mic for the NBC Chicago Sports broadcast and knew his words would be remembered.
But anyone can predict a home run before a teammate hits the ball, and will occasionally be right. Accurately predicting where Anderson would land at Wrigley made Cease “Soxtradamus.” On his Instagram account, Cease boldly called it “the greatest called shot since Babe Ruth” before asking, “What should I predict next??”
Everything seems to be going well with Cease these days.
The 26-year-old is tied for the American League lead with 47 strikeouts and a total of 28 over the past 18 innings as he prepares for the opener of Thursday’s four-game major series against the New York Yankees. In those three games, he had a 1.50 ERA and dominated from the start.
“It feels great,” Cease said as he sat down in the Red Sox’s dugout recently. “If anything, knowing that the process we’re following is working is just a big confidence booster. It’s just a continuation of (2021), another year of experience, getting used to how you prepare and what you’re going to experience what.”
The White Sox knew Hughes had this in him. After all, he was the top pitcher for the Cubs when he was acquired by Eloy Jiménez in the summer of 2017. But his commanding issues early in his career were a real concern. Even after he started 12 times in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Red Sox didn’t believe he would start the playoff series against the Oakland A’s. Manager Rick Renteria squandered Cease’s halftime clearance in Game 2 before using the rest of the bullpen in a disastrous loss in Game 3, leading to Renteria’s exit.
Last season, Cease dropped his walk rate from 5.2 per 9 innings to 3.7, went 13-7 with 226 strikeouts, third in the American League and tied for eighth-highest in franchise history. He called 2021 “the first year I kept proving myself.”
But in Game 3 of the AL Division Series in the playoffs opener against the Houston Astros, Stops was hit by head coach Tony La Russa in the third inning after hitting the third inning. A yank with two outs. The Sox trailed 3-1 in a must-win game and La Russa was impatient with Cease’s control issues.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season, and now Cease is learning those lessons and developing into one of the most feared starters in the league.
“It’s the first year and I feel like I’m showing my best self most of the time now,” he said, adding that the support he’s getting from Sox fans “is definitely hyping me up.”
With Lance Lynn recovering from right knee surgery, Seth’s performance has become an integral part of the Red Sox’s lead in the middle. With Giolito entering his walking season in 2023 without an actual extension offer, the Red Sox will likely be counting on Hughes and Michael Kopech to anchor the rotation.
Kopech led all starters Wednesday with a .93 ERA. Cease is third with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
“They’ve been all we could ask for this season so far,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday. “Dylan was clearly a little bit ahead of Michael[this spring]… but Dylan continued to do what we saw for most of the second half of last season, which made him one of the elite starters in the league. “
Cease’s future looked bright, and he not only lived up to the early hype, but he also watched a video of his “Called Shot 2.0” at Wrigley Field go viral.
“It’s definitely going to explode in a day or two,” he said with a laugh. “I haven’t heard much about it since. I really don’t know what happened. I blurted it out, and half a second later – bang – it happened. It was weird.”
After establishing his reputation as a fortune teller, some asked Chase to make predictions on the spot. So far, he has refused to do so, but reserves the right to make more predictions in due course.
“We have to save them until it really matters,” he said. “If I feel something is really strong, maybe I’ll throw it out. But now we’re saving it.”
US News .