Toronto Blue Jays’ Brett Cecil: New Level of Domination
When Toronto Blue Jays left hander Brett Cecil made his major league debut in 2009, he was a young, under the radar promising starter. He would go on to start in 17 ball games for the Blue Jays in 2009 and finish with a winning record of 7-4, despite a underwhelming 5.30 ERA. Cecil started 2010 in AAA but was promoted early in the season to the big club and went on to be one of the Blue Jays best starters in 2010, starting 28 games which went on to a 15-7 record with a 4.22 ERA. Respectable numbers for a guy in his second year of starting. But come 2011, there was a huge road block in Cecil’s career. Fresh off of a 15 win campaign, 2011 was to be the final step in fully breaking out into a consistent starter. But Cecil struggled, and struggled mightily due to an unexplainable loss of velocity to his pitches, which caused his fastball to top out at about 89 MPH and his once filthy breaking ball to not be nearly as sharp as it first was. 2011 was a disaster for Cecil as he finished with a 4-11 record with a 4.73 ERA. In 2012 there was not much more progress. Despite what was thought to help him in improving his velocity in changing his mechanics, it only made things more rocky. He started 9 games for the Blue Jays going 2-4 with a 5.72 ERA. The loss of velocity and his inability to retire big league hitters had his career at a crossroads and was put in long relief duty.
Coming into 2013 there was finally some optimism for Brett. His velocity had come back and his off-speed pitches were sharper than ever. How? Thanks to an off-season workout program recommended to Cecil by Blue Jays set-up man, Steve Delabar, Cecil trained in the off-season by throwing a weighted ball. It has helped Delabar come back from injury early in his career and rejuvenated him. For Cecil, the weighted ball program built up strength in his shoulder and throwing arm. His fastball was back to topping out at 94 and his curveball looked downright unhittable. Still, despite some impressive numbers in a relief role, Cecil barely made the Blue Jays opening day roster, as his counterpart in making the team, Jeremy Jeffress was out of options. Cecil and Jeffress made the team and Jeffress was gone not a week into his Blue Jays career. Cecil on the other hand, took full advantage and ran with his opportunity in the bullpen.
A few years ago, a friend of mine in Sport Management at Brock University named Paul Berthelot, had brought up the idea that starting was probably not going to be the route we would see Cecil in down the road. Paul had said he believed Cecil could become the new Scott Downs of the Blue Jays, a lefty who would pitch in big time situations and have the ability to retire lefties and righties. Well, Paul, your prediction has come to fruition. In 2013, Cecil has pitched in 39 innings (33 appearances) throwing up some all-star calibre numbers. He has allowed only 17 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 home run, has K’d 44 batters, held opponents to a .132 batting average, a 0.69 WHIP, an ERA of 1.38, and a 3-0 record. Pretty amazing numbers to this point.
Cecil has truly been masterful this season. The last hit anybody has recorded off of Cecil was way back on May 28th. Today is June 24th. He has walked only 3 batters since May 28th, 1 of them was an intentional walk. If not for the intentional pass, Cecil has not allowed a baserunner in all of June (8 appearances, 10.2 innings). The last time Brett Cecil has allowed a run was way back on May 10th at Boston. To put that into perspective, Cecil has a 20 inning scoreless streak going, which is simply unheard of. Advanced statistics really do not need to tell you anything about how Brett Cecil has fared this season. All you need to do is sit back and watch the magical run he is on. He has carved himself out a great role in the late stages of a ball game and Blue Jays fans have Steve Delabar to thank for the weighted ball program and have to give a huge thanks to the tireless efforts of Brett Cecil to get to where he is today. Brett Cecil truly is pitching at a whole new level of domination.