Blue Jays name Brett Cecil as closer…again


In the up and down world that has been April for the Toronto Blue Jays, nothing should be surprising at this point. So it comes as little shock that the team has named Brett Cecil as the team’s new closer, as first reported by Shi Davidi at Sportsnet.

Those with astute memory will remember that Cecil began the season as the Blue Jays closer. However, the left-hander missed much of spring training and was removed from the role after blowing his first save opportunity on April 8th. The job was then given to rookie Miguel Castro while Cecil worked in lower leverage situations in order to rebuild his arm strength.

Castro appeared to be the answer when he converted his first two save opportunities. However, the increased leverage has not been kind to the 20-year-old and he’s taken 2 losses and 2 blown saves in his last 7 outings. During that span, opposing hitters have teed him up to the tune of a .407/.452/.741 slash-line, resulting in a 6.00 ERA.

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For now, the plan is to have Aaron Loup and Roberto Osuna provide the primary set-up innings leading up to Cecil. Castro will remain with the team, but will be placed in low-leverage situations in order to rebuild his confidence, as per Davidi. It all sounds a bit circular if you ask me, with Gibbons throwing whatever he can against the wall until he finds a match that works.

One interesting twist to the entire bullpen picture is the presence of Aaron Sanchez. Gibbons was also frank with the media, in this case Gregor Chisholm of, noting that the team has discussed moving Sanchez back to the bullpen. Sanchez excelled in relief last season, posting a stellar 1.09 ERA and a 2.80 FIP across 33 innings of work in 2014. If he were to enter the bullpen, he would instantly become the most likely candidate to close for the Jays.

However, at odds in moving Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen is his long-term potential, one which the Blue Jays are adamant lies in the rotation. Indeed, Sanchez has shown glimpses of his potential in the early season starts we’ve seen, posting a 5.03 ERA in his first 4 starts of the season. His control has been a bit iffy at best though, with the right-hander struggling with the movement on his fastball, resulting in 14 walks in his first 19.2 innings of work.

Of course, the other half of that argument is what the Blue Jays do with the rotation should they remove Sanchez from the equation. Toronto does have Jeff Francis in the bullpen currently, and he could easily be moved to the rotation. However, I don’t think anyone is eager to see Francis logging too many innings in an AL East rotation. Toronto lacks a true alternative at this stage, so the team may need to enter the outside market in order to supplement the rotation if that were the decision.

Next: Addressing the Blue Jays struggles and righting the ship

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