Matchup 5: Scott Downs vs Brett Cecil
Downs has been one of the more dependable relievers the Blue Jays have ever had. Cecil has transformed himself into one of the top relievers in the game today. Who will win?
Downs is 8th place in games played on the club’s all time list with 347. That is more than a certain famous starter that is coming up a bit later, here. He’s 20-18 as a Blue Jay with an ERA of 3.13. He held batters to a .235 average in his 407.2 innings of work. The former Montreal Expos reliever spent 6 seasons in Toronto from 2005 through 2010.
Toronto Blue Jays
While his WAR may not jump out at you (he’s a total 8.1 win player over his 15 year career), what should grab you is his reliablility. As a lefty out of the bullpen, he was relied on heavily during his tenure in Toronto. He led the league in games pitched in 2007 with 81. That is half a season! Granted, he was a lefty specialist who only threw 58 innings in those games. Regardless, it is that value that kept him employed at the big league level right up until 2014.
Cecil was the Blue Jays first round pick (38th) back in 2007. After experimenting with him as a starter for the first part of his career, they moved him to the bullpen and have not looked back. The club had seen him as a starter from the beginning and was encouraged by his 15-7 showing in 2010. But, he followed that up with a 4-11 record the next year. The move to the bullpen resulted in an All Star appearance in 2013 and he’s been excellent since.
There has been much debate about Cecil as a closer, but you might be surprised to know that he only has 11 for his whole career. He’s never really fit that role. Instead, as a lefty out of the ‘pen late in a game, he’s excelled with a K/9 rate of 12.83 in 2014 and 11.60 in 2015. This is thanks to his devastating curveball that is among the best in MLB. After settling into the bullpen, his WAR jumped to 1.1 in 2014 and 1.5 in 2015.
Next: Matchup 6: Battle of the Closers