It only took a couple of poor seasons to figure out, but Brett Cecil might finally land where he belongs when the Toronto Blue Jays call the lefty up next week when the Las Vegas 51s season ends.
That’d be in the bullpen, pitching as a left-handed specialist for the rest of the year, and presumably going forward as well:
Brett Cecil will be among Sept callups,
#Jays, will be used out of bullpen to see “how his stuff plays up in shorter stints,” says Farrell
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 31, 2012
It’s a smart change in the utilization of the 26-year old, who was once considered a key component to the Blue Jays’ rotation, but has failed to show improvements as a starter since his 15-win, 4.22 ERA season as a 24-year old. Cecil did not make the team out of spring training this year, and squandered an opportunity to make an impression when the Blue Jays called him up as an injury replacement in June, posting a 5.72/1.47 ERA/WHIP over 50.1 innings in 9 starts this season before being demoted again in August.
All of this is a long way of saying that Cecil just hasn’t worked out as a starting pitcher in his career so far. The conversion to bullpen specialist, however, might be a completely different story. Cecil has a career 3.68/1.13 ERA/WHIP vs lefties, compared to 5.18/1.52 vs righties, with the former group batting just .227 off him (vs. 286). From there, the significant splits just keep going in every major statistical category, from K/BB (3.03 v. 1.80), to home run rates (0.98/9 vs 1.55/9) – which all point to the likelihood of Cecil having a successful time as a LOOGY as pretty damn good.
It would be a refreshing change from seeing the guy get hammered as a starter over and over again, anyway. Provided that he’ll be used exclusively against lefties, of course. Much of the criticism towards John Farrell‘s work with the Blue Jays this season is his bullpen management, and it’s possible that “short stints” could mean long-relief with eventual plans to get him back to starting (where Cecil would be more valuable…if he were successful at it, anyway). That would probably be a mistake, considering Cecil’s ability to consistently get outs against lefties in his career thus far. The Blue Jays might well have a shut-down LHB specialist in their ranks right now – I just hope the team winds up using him as such.