MLB: Padres’ Dylan Cease faces Rockies, winners of 5 in a row

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As he watched Dylan Cease strike out one helpless Chicago Cubs hitter after another last week, San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. came to a realization.

“When you see that, you’re just grateful he’s on your team,” Tatis Jr. said.

Cease will try to keep up his dominant early-season form Tuesday night when San Diego hosts the suddenly hot Colorado Rockies in the middle contest of the teams’ three-game series.

The big right-hander is coming off an overpowering outing last Wednesday, striking out 12 and allowing one infield single in seven innings during a 3-0 win at Wrigley Field. Cease (5-2, 2.19 ERA) has struck out 60 in 49 1/3 innings and boasts the second-best WHIP in MLB at 0.75 behind Ranger Suarez (0.72) of the Philadelphia Phillies.

How dominant has Cease been? Opponents are hitting a feeble .128 against him, or about the equivalent of batting nine pitchers in a lineup back in the day when they hit. Colorado got a taste of Cease’s recent form on April 22 in Denver when he allowed just one run on one hit in seven innings and struck out eight during a 3-1 win.

“I think this is the best I’ve commanded the ball ever, really,” Cease said. “I think I’m throwing it really well right now.”

Cease finished second in American League Cy Young voting in 2022 with the Chicago White Sox, posting a 2.20 ERA. His ERA more than doubled last year and Chicago sent him to the Padres in March for reliever Steven Wilson and prospects.

Cease, who has allowed three hits or fewer in five of his past six starts, is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three prior outings against Colorado.

This version of the Rockies could be tougher to deal with than they were last month at Coors Field. Colorado’s 5-4 victory Monday night in the series opener stretched its winning streak to a season-high five games.

The Rockies used aggressive baserunning, stealing three bases for the second straight game, and plated four runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good.

And it will run out one of its more reliable starters in an attempt to record a second straight series win. Right-hander Cal Quantrill (2-3, 3.94) is coming off a 9-1 win Thursday against the San Francisco Giants in which he allowed one run on five hits in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.

Quantrill, who started his career with San Diego, has a respectable 1.29 WHIP.

“He has a lot of confidence in his stuff,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Quantrill. “His intent is to pound the strike zone with all his pitches. His two-seam sinker and the split are his primary factors, and enough sliders and the occasional curveball keep them off-balance.”

Quantrill has found success in two prior outings against the Padres, going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 13 strikeouts in as many innings.

–Field Level Media

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