Jays From the Couch brings you the Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Highlights & Lowlights for lefty reliever, Brett Cecil.
Few aspects of the major league game are scrutinized or as polarizing as the bullpen and it’s usages. Since 2009, the longest-tenured Blue Jay, Brett Cecil has seen them all: Beginning his career as a starter and bouncing back-and-forth between Triple-A (and a 38-innings stint in Double-A) and Toronto until 2013, Cecil has tossed as a mop-up guy, LOOGY, high-leverage set up man and even as a closer in his underappreciated Blue Jays career. After a maligned stretch as the Blue Jays closer at the beginning of 2015, Cecil finally settled into the high-leverage, late inning lefty reliever halfway through the season and into 2016, setting up and often saving the livelihood of the Joaquin Benoit-Jason Grilli– Roberto Osuna trifecta.
Taking a step back and looking at Cecil’s 2016 season as a whole, we see a solid yet unmemorable season. Over 36 2/3 innings, facing mostly left-handed batters (but not that many more), Cecil posted a 1-7 record (let’s not even mention the absurdity of pitcher wins/losses today), 3.93 ERA and 3.64 FIP. Cecil kept the walks low (1.96/9) and recorded strikeouts at a high rate (11.05/9) and though it dropped since recent seasons, sustained a 42% ground ball rate.
Cecil had a couple of rough months, posting a 5.79 ERA over 9 1/3 April innings and a 6.75 ERA through just 8 July innings. When the calendar flipped over to September, though, Cecil got tough. He allowed just one after August 24th – including a pristine 4 1/3 IP, one hit, three walks and four strikeouts after October 1st. Cecil was huge in Toronto’s only win in the ALCS versus Cleveland, striking out Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp.
While you won’t see many highlight reels with the keywords “Brett Cecil”, it’s worth mentioning that the Jays may not have made it where they ended in 2016 without the efforts of an organizational guy from the University of Maryland. A LOOGY we so affectionately referred to as “Squints.”
Cecil missed a significant chunk of time (about six weeks) early in the summer after suffering a torn lat against the Rangers. Prior to the lat injury Cecil had tossed just 10 1/3 IP while struggling to some extent, allowing seven runs, including a game-winning HR to Logan Forsythe on April 5th – negating a solid 7-inning, one-run and eight strikeout effort from Aaron Sanchez. Cecil punted another brilliant start from a young teammate on August 21st as well – relenting a two-run bomb to Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez while relieving Marcus Stroman‘s clean slate after a 7 1/3-innings and just one run and nine strikeouts. These game-changing home runs were evidence of a career-high HR/FB rate of 20%, the highest of Cecil’s career and in stark contrast to his previous high of 14.8% as a rookie in 2009.
So, the biggest knock on Cecil this season was those six home runs. But, as the spray chart above shows, batters lucked in getting “just enough” on the majority of those home runs, with the exception of well, this Kendry Morales grand slam.
While it’s too early to see the Blue Jays’ road map for the 2016-2017 off season, GM Ross Atkins has mentioned that the bullpen is often the easiest issue to address via free agency and trades – which might not be good news for those who want to see Cecil back with the Jays in 2017. As an above-average lefty reliever with experience late in games, Cecil is going to get paid very well this offseason, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be. While so many Blue Jays free agents express a love for the City of Toronto, one of the greatest fan bases in Major League Baseball, and a desire to bring a Championship back to them – almost all of them end up walking in the end. While I won’t call Cecil an elite reliever, he’s plenty good enough to receive his share of attention and offers both lucrative and long-term this winter.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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