Brett Cecil Makes Most of Second Chance

Fans and analysts did not consider Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil as one of the elite rookie pitchers coming into the season but he did have some buzz surrounding him. He made Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects List (#72) while also earning a B+ grade from prospect maven John Sickels.

Cecil started off 2009 in the minors but was promoted in early May. He made four consecutive starts for Toronto and pitched well in three of them before the Red Sox hammered him on May 20th. Two days later the Blue Jays optioned him to the minors, where Cecil spent the next month.

Upon his return to the majors, Cecil tossed a Quality Start against the Nationals but then posted two poor outings around a relief appearance. Prior to the All-Star break, it looked like 2009 was shaping up to be nothing more than a learning season for the rookie from Maryland.

But in his last three outings, Cecil is 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 20 innings. What, if anything has changed for Cecil in his last three outings? Let us take a look at his PitchFX numbers to see if we can notice any trends.


Date AVG Speed High Speed Number Thrown Strike Percentage
July 5th 88.69 90.9 33 48.48
July 10th 92.07 95.1 32 56.25
July 21st 91.56 93.4 37 64.86
July 26th 90.65 94.3 32 50.00


Date AVG Speed High Speed Number Thrown Strike Percentage
July 5th 82.36 84.5 20 65.00
July 10th 86.33 88.5 22 50.00
July 21st 84.98 88.8 39 64.10
July 26th 84.39 87.1 30 60.00

Cecil simply was lacking velocity on both his fastball and his slider in his July 5th outing, one of three poor outings this year for him. So far this season, Cecil has pitched in 11 games, making 10 starts. He has hurled seven Quality Starts but has been hit hard the other three starts, which has made his overall numbers seem mediocre.

After getting lit up for four runs in the first inning of his start against the Reds on June 25th, the Blue Jays moved Cecil to the bullpen. He might still be there, except for Scott Richmond’s shoulder injury. That led to a return to the rotation for Cecil and his poor outing on July 5th versus the Yankees.

According to the Blue Jays’ official site, the team activated Richmond from the DL Tuesday night. Cecil will remain in the rotation, as Toronto sent Dirk Hayhurst to Triple-A to make room on the roster, while Brian Tallet moved to the bullpen to create a rotation spot for Richmond.

Cecil’s last three outings have earned him a longer look in the Blue Jays’ rotation and he is someone for fantasy owners to take a flier on, as he is available in 72 percent of CBS Sports leagues and over 98 percent of ESPN leagues.

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Another possibility for the velocity fluctuations is differences in the pitch f/x between parks. His FB velocity is always 6MPH faster than the SL velocity, regardless of park. Unless he was hurt, 4MPH is a lot to gain from one start to the next.