Cease. McClanahan. Cy Young Pitching in April.

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White Sox vs. Rays, 4:05 ET

You like playoff matchups? Look no further than this one right here. Well, in fairness, the way the White Sox are playing, they don’t deserve to be considered a playoff team right now, but it is still early. Maybe they can get out of it, but that’s not what I’m here for today. Today, I’m here for one thing, one matchup: Cease vs. McClanahan.

The White Sox are (once again) underperforming. They are playing very bad baseball currently and it doesn’t seem to have any signs of improving. They are losing at home, they are losing on the road, they are already six games under .500. It isn’t as if someone is running away with the division right now, but you need to make it really difficult on yourself later in the season because you can’t get your crap together in the first months of the year. The one bright spot for them early on has been their ace, Dylan Cease. He’s been good enough to win all of his games, allowing no more than two earned runs (he has allowed four and three unearned in his last two games) in any start. One really concerning thing right now is that Cease is walking a lot of hitters. He has 19 strikeouts in the past three games, but he also has 12 walks in that same stretch.

The Rays started the year with 13 consecutive wins, which will probably not happen again in quite some time. I mean it took like 35 years to do this time, so I imagine it might take just as long next time. They have looked a little, well, average since the winning streak. Sure, 17-3 looks great, but when you realize they are just 4-3 over their last seven games, it starts to be a bit more unimpressive. They still haven’t lost a home game either. Facing Cease is not an easy task for anyone, even if you have the hottest bats in the world. I mentioned Cease is looking worse lately, but he has no-hit stuff on any given day. The good news for the Rays is that Shane McClanahan is going for them and he has equally good stuff, maybe even better. He’s won every start this season and has allowed just 15 hits in 23 innings. He also has 11 walks though. Like Cease, he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in his outings.

This is clearly a pitcher’s duel. I think both of them are probably looking forward to this early in the season as well. Opening Day is one where you see everyone’s aces, but they aren’t always in great form. This, a late April game, is about as close as we get to a playoff-type pitching matchup as we can. I’m going to take the under in this game at 7 runs. I think both pitchers are going to go five innings minimum, probably six. At most we see four runs – so if you can get the first five under 4, take it. But I think the full game is still fine.

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Written by David Troy

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