So, we took a look at Brandon Morrow after a bad start, so I thought it was only fair to take a look at Brett Cecil after a good start - Brett pitched into the 8th against his hometown team yesterday, scattering 7 singles and a walk and striking out 9 while generally keeping the ball down.
As we all know, Cecil was demoted early in 2011 amidst some concerns about his velocity, while fellow lefty Jo-Jo Reyes was kept in the rotation (a move we here at Bluebird Banter opposed, it should be noted). Since being recalled to the Jays and reinserted into the starting rotation on the last day of June, Cecil has a 3.83 ERA and has held batters to a .236/.296/.410 line. While that is certainly aided by a .253 BABIP over that time period, his strikeout and walk numbers (68/27 over 98 innings) are also quite good and Brett's groundball numbers, which were awful at the start of the season, have also been improving to some extent.
On the whole, Cecil's strikeout numbers have ticked up in 2011 from 2010, and that's including his rough start to the season, while his walk numbers have stayed about the same. He has yielded more home runs in 2011, but that's primarily due to giving up more fly balls in general, a problem he appears to be in the process of rectifying. Brett's FIP is ugly due to the home run numbers, and his tRA is ugly due to the decreased groundball numbers, but SIERA (4.16) and xFIP (4.35) look pretty respectable, particularly considering his rough start to the season.
Cecil hasn't improved on 2010, in which he was worth 2.5 wins using fangraphs WAR (2 wins using BB Reference WAR), but to me he's more or less shown over the second half of the season that he can pretty much be relied upon to at least duplicate his 2010 numbers going forward - just enough strikeouts to get by with his stinginess with walks, and successful as long as he can keep the ball down.
In terms of velocity, Cecil's fastball is down a little over one mph from 2010, but it has more horizontal movement and just as much vertical movement. It certainly hasn't hurt his K numbers, which have improved from 2010. Vertical movement is a real strength of Cecil's and if he can improve his fastball command, he should be able to induce a lot of groundballs. Since he just turned 25 in July, there's still some time for him to do that. Better groundball numbers would make Cecil a very solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
With Zach Stewart now out of the picture, Jesse Litsch seemingly relegated to the bullpen and Kyle Drabek not yet showing he can handle major league hitters, it's possible, even likely, that Brett Cecil will be one of the Jays' best five options coming out of camp in 2012, even if Dustin McGowan is able to continue his reemergence and stay healthy. Guys like Chad Jenkins, Deck McGuire, and Drew Hutchison have had nice seasons but the Jays likely won't consider them ready for the majors to start 2012, and guys who arguably are ready, like Brad Mills, aren't an upgrade over Cecil.
I think it's a good thing if Cecil has a role in the 2012 Jays starting rotation. Continued focus on fastball location to get ahead in the count coupled with Cecil's quality secondary pitches could make Cecil a very solid pitcher in 2012 and at just 25/26 (he'll turn 26 right at the halfway point) with several more years of team control, he'd be an attractive trade piece for a number of teams. Alternatively, the team could keep him as an insurance policy in case some of their young arms don't develop as hoped or the injury bug hits.
What do you all think about Brett's role going forward?
Today's title from the tune "Trusty Chords" by Hot Water Music. Those guys rocked.