Blue Jays could get miracle comeback from Brett Cecil
The Toronto Blue Jays loss of Brett Cecil was strangely overshadowed by the pandemonium that unfolded after dropping to a two game deficit in the ALDS. In another freak injury, something the Blue Jays have become all too familiar with this season, Cecil suffered a torn calf muscle and was deemed to be out for the remainder of the playoffs. Not so fast.
Prior to yesterday’s life-altering game, The National Post’s John Lott reported that Cecil had begun throwing. Working with trainer George Poulis, the lefty made throws with his feet planted in the outfield before working in a leg kick briefly. “I couldn’t believe it when they said he was going to throw today,” manager John Gibbons told Lott. “But he’s moving along.”
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Marcus Stroman has already given the blueprint for smashing through recovery timelines, but the fact that Cecil is throwing with any level of comfort or ability is unbelievable at this point. Given that he was removed from the ALDS lineup due to injury, he becomes automatically ineligible for the upcoming ALCS against the Kansas City Royals. If the Blue Jays are able to advance to the World Series, though, Cecil would be able to return.
The odds remain stacked heavily against Cecil, but his potential return wold salvage a bullpen that’s been left fairly out of sync. If Aaron Sanchez is facing left-handed hitters in the most important inning of the season, something’s gone wrong.
It will be interesting to monitor any potential roster changes ahead of the ALCS series as Ryan Tepera, who was added in the wake of Cecil’s injury, doesn’t seem to hold a place of much value. It was reported at the time that Mark Buehrle‘s arm health was a primary factor in him not getting the nod, while someone like Bo Schultz could also see consideration. None of these arms are ideal, but when you get to the 7th spot in a bullpen, expectations need to be tempered.
Aaron Loup‘s absence, related to a family matter, will also be one to monitor. Major League Baseball does not have a playoff bereavement list, and players are only eligible to be replaced if they’ve suffered an injury. Expect an update on his status by early tomorrow.
Cecil’s return could also limit the tinkering that John Gibbons was forced to do in the ALDS. Moving David Price into a relief role was a fine decision, and one I’d make again in the ALCS without hesitation, but it’s not the preferred move. Having Cecil in the bullpen allows Gibbons to exercise the quick hook when needed, giving him enough high-leverage arms to allow for one to be used in the middle innings.
The big challenge for Cecil will be repeating his throwing motion with regular strength. Pain will be a factor, but a lower-body weakness can quickly materialize in lowered velocity and decreased control. He’s got miles to go, but we’ve seen this story before.
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