2013 Toronto Blue Jays Reviews: Brett Cecil


Sep 8, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil (27) walks to the dugout during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Blue Jays won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Brett Cecil
Position : Relief Pitcher

2013 Transactions

September 17, 2013 – Blue Jays place Brett Cecil on 15-day DL with left-elbow soreness, retroactive to September 13th.

September 26, 2013 – Blue Jays transfer Brett Cecil from 15-day DL to 60-day DL.

2013 Expectations

Entering the 2013 season, Brett Cecil was one of the true unknowns that the Blue Jays were bringing to Spring Training. After missing the cut and starting 2012 back in the minor leagues, Cecil made the transition to the bullpen. The results weren’t pretty, making 12 appearances as a reliever as posting a 5.72 ERA inn 11 innings of work.

Still, with the left-hander out of options, Toronto brought him into Spring Training and gave him an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen. In 10 spring games, Cecil again struggled, allowing 12 earned runs over 13.1 innings, but also struck out 18 batters. Toronto saw enough to put him on the opening day roster and gave him a low-risk chance to make the most of it.

2013 Reality

Judging upon what the Blue Jays were initially expecting from the left-hander to what they actually got, it is safe to say that Brett Cecil far exceeded those expectations.

The 27-year-old made a seamless transition to the bullpen, making 60 appearances and posting a 5-1 record, a 2.82 ERA, and a 10.4 K/9 ratio. His 1.0 wins above replacement (FanGraphs) was the second highest of his career (2.5 in 2010). His season was highlighted by his first selection to the American League All-Star team and he rattled of a streak of 38 consecutive batters faced without surrendering a base hit, a Blue Jays record.

However, all was not candy and roses for Brett Cecil. After making 41 first half appearances and pitching to a 1.94 ERA and a 3.24 K/BB ratio, Cecil struggled down the stretch. He made just 19 appearances in the second half, posting a 5.65 ERA and watching his K/BB ratio dip to 2.50. His slugging percentage against also jumped from .522 in the first half to .794 in the second.

The second half slide could have been contributed to fatigue, as he received rest for both shoulder and elbow discomfort toward the end of the season. His year officially ended on September 17, when the Blue Jays placed him on the disabled list with the aforementioned elbow issue.

2014 Outlook

Despite some lingering notion that Brett Cecil was almost tapped to jump back into the rotation late in the year, the Blue Jays are not likely to use him in a starting role in 2014. With such a superb season under his belt, the Blue Jays will look to Cecil as an integral part of the backend of the bullpen in 2014, and will not want to risk messing with something that worked as planned.

The team conducted an MRI on Cecil’s elbow after the season and no structural issues were found, which bodes well for his ability to be ready for normal winter workouts. That will put the injury scare behind him and allow him to focus on putting him in a position to succeed next season. His 60 appearances were likely more than Toronto wished to utilize Cecil in 2013, a product of an unproductive starting rotation, so the workload would feasibly lighten a bit in 2014.

That said, it is safe to envision Cecil reverting a bit, but not drastically. He’s found a formula that works for him and he’s going to continue to see some success from it. An ERA in the low 3.00’s and 50-55 appearances is likely. A K-Rate around 10.0 also looks repeatable, especially if his curveball remains sharp and he doesn’t lose any of the added velocity from this past season.

All and all, Brett Cecil looks like he finally has a permanent home. With a healthy Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar, and Casey Janssen (judging that none of that core gets traded), and the inclusion of Cecil, the bullpen is one area the Blue Jays will not need to worry about in 2014.