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Toronto Blue Jays 2016 season previews: Brett Cecil

Craig Borden
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Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil is the proud owner of one of the bullpen spots heading into 2016 after avoiding arbitration with a 1-year 3.8 million dollar contract

Past entries:   Marco Estrada    Justin Smoak

As the Blue Jays march towards opening day, we will be going through the projected roster (and slightly beyond) to project what could go wrong, what could go right, and how the coming year might play out.

2015 Performance Recap

Last season was a slight roller coaster ride for Cecil. He started the year as the Blue Jays closer but had some issues getting going once the spring ended. In early April, he lost the role as closer to the rookie Miguel Castro.

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Castro got of to a good start in the bullpen but the closer spot was not for him as the role once again fell to Cecil. Cecil’s time as closer would again be short lived as he would lose the job again by late June. The lefty then slid back into his setup role and excelled.  His ERA fell from a lofty 5.96 all the way down to a 2.48 where he ended the season and his abilities shined in the setup role of what became a very good bullpen for the Jays to finish the season.

His opportunity to perform on the big stage in the post season would be cut short, however. Cecil had to leave during his second outing for a calf injury that had him down for the count. He did begin throwing following the injury and was looking to return for a Jays potential World Series appearance before Toronto fell to the Royals in the ALCS.

2016 Role and Steamer Projection

FanGraphs projections have Cecil as an integral part of the Blue Jays bullpen for the 2016 campaign.  They show him getting into 55 games and owning a 2.89 ERA.  The most shocking stat maybe that Fangraphs projects his WAR to drop to a 0.8 from last seasons 1.4, though these are traditionally conservative

Steamer projections are on par for the most part with Cecil’s 2015 season

Cecil is a valuable part of the Blue Jays pen and is clearly the best left-handed arm. We at Jays Journal are expecting a similar outing this season from the soon to be 30-year-old.

What could go wrong?

Cecil appears to thrive when he knows what his role is. At the start of the 2015 season he was the “Closer”, but that was written in sand. His role in the bullpen was never certain until the emergence of Roberto Osuna. Once Osuna locked up the 9th Cecil was able to get comfy in the setup role. If management keeps moving him around from role to role in the pen, look for his ERA to climb.

What could go right?

Cecil could continue his late season charge and show that he is an elite league-wide bullpen force. If you look at his 2015 season splits you might think you are looking at 2 different players. Cecil’s second half was incredible and did not allow an earned run through 25.1 innings. In the first half he was sporting a 4.66 ERA with a plethora of walks over 29 innings of work. That all vanished in the second half as Cecil heated up and continued to sit down his opponents.  If second half 2015 season Cecil shows up, the Blue Jays may have one of the better bullpens in the league.

The bottom line

Brett Cecil is a very talented lefty and will continue to be a source of consistency in the bullpen. Look for him to be filling the late innings to pass the ball to our closer. His ability to keep opposing hitters off balance and shut down righty and lefty hitters will keep him dominant for years to come. If he can keep hitters guessing expect to see his opposing batting average well below the .200 line like his second half last.  His second half opposing batting average was a minuscule .136 as he helped the Jays cruise into the post season.

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