Toronto Blue Jays' Brett Cecil Reinvented As Elite Reliever

By Thom Tsang
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but Brett Cecil is good again.

No, really. In fact, he’s been so good that there’s even been calls from the Toronto Blue Jays fan base to give him another shot at starting given the team’s once-again decimated rotation … which is saying a whole lot, considering his history of being not very good at it over 439.1 innings as a starter.

Fortunately, the team has not leaned towards that way yet, and for good reason — why mess with an elite reliever when they’ve got it?

Yes, that’s right, it’s safe to use the word ‘elite’ in a sentence with Cecil’s name without fear of being laughed out of town, because that’s exactly what the lefty has been for the Blue Jays in 2013 — and he’s not even pitching in a whole lot of high-pressure situations, as a 0.86 gmLI will tell you.

Even so, that hasn’t stopped him from accumulating 0.9 fWAR through his 34 innings of work thus far, highest among all Blue Jays relievers (yes, he’s been more valuable than closer Casey Janssen) and good enough for a six-way tie for ninth among all MLB relievers.

Not too shabby for a guy who was all but cut loose not too long ago, right?

Cecil’s dominance was on full display on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox, as Goggles needed just 12 pitches (10 of them strikes) to retire five batters in a scoreless outing which included a pair of strikeouts. So yeah, let’s just say he wasn’t wasting any time messing around, and was eventually awarded his second win of the season after the Blue Jays rallied late to win the game.

For the 26-year-old, though, it was just business as usual, as he hasn’t given up a run since May 10 with a string of 12 scoreless appearances and counting. Of the 29 appearances that he’s made for the bluebirds in 2013, he has only allowed runs in three of them, and has held his opponents hitless in 18.

That, by the way, gives him a 1.59/0.76 ERA/WHIP, along with .144 BAA that ranks 17th, fifth, and sixth in the majors.

Not only that, but he’s become a strikeout artist as well, getting swinging strikes at a career-best 11.9 percent rate and translating it a 10.32 K/9 on the strength of a fastball that averages 91.8 mph, both also career-highs.

In short: this is not a Brett Cecil that the Blue Jays of their fans have ever seen.

So, it’s safe to say that we can forget about just simple redemption at this point — if this keeps up, Cecil will have gone from a make-good story in a disappointing 2013 season for the bluebirds to a closer-in-waiting who hasn’t even hit his age-27 season yet.

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