Brett Cecil came into spring training battling for a job in the bullpen. In 2012 he had an ERA of 5.72, not a number that guarantees you a job the next season. And his work as a reliever wasn't any better, he had a 5.73 ERA in 12 relief appearances. But an off-season of the weighted ball program seemed to have helped him out.
His 2013 season:
Who expected that?
He had 11 holds and 2 blown saves.
Fangraphs had him at a 1.0 WAR, giving him a value of $5 million to the Jays.
He had a 2.88 FIP and 2.99 xFIP. His BABIP was .267, down from .324 in 2012.
Compared to 2012, Brett's strikeouts were up (10.38/9, up from 7.48), walk rate was about the same (3.41/9, from 3.38) and home run rate dropped (0.59/9, way down from 1.61).
Cecil gave up fewer line drives (20.0%, down from 21.7), many more ground balls (51.3%, up from 37.0%) and, of course, fewer fly balls (28.7%, down from 41.3). Fewer of his flies left the park (9.3%, down from 14.5). He really became a different pitcher.
A left-handed pitcher, Brett was much better vs. LHB (.191/.223/.235) than RHB (.212/.341/.394).
He was better on the road (1.82 ERA, batters hit .196/.265/.280) than at home (3.77 ERA, .205/.300/.339).
April: 1-0, 1.23 ERA. Batters hit .163/.250/.327, 6 walks, 17 strikeouts, in 14.2 innings.
May: 0-0, 2.63 ERA. Batters hit .184/.231/.245, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts, in 13.2 innings.
June: 2-0, 0.71 ERA. Batters hit .098/.159/.122, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts, in 12.2 innings.
July: 1-1, 7.84, 1 save. Batters hit .302/.426/.465, 9 walks, 11 strikeouts, in 10.1 innings.
August: 1-0, 3.24 ERA. Batters hit .273/.351/.424, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, in 8.1 innings.
September: 0-0, 0.00 ERA. Batters hit .250/.250/.250, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, in 1.0 inning.
He went on the DL with 'elbow discomfort' (pain, they mean pain) on September 17th.
Brett only had that one bad stretch, right after playing in the All-Star game, where he struck out the one batter he faced, Dominic Brown.
We found out, after the season, that the Jays had considered moving Cecil back into the starting rotation. It was an understandable thought, Cecil had success as a starter in the past. And we really were scraping the bottom of the barrow for starting pitchers, but Brett looked like he had found a long term home in the bullpen, so why mess with it to solve a short term problem.
I had thought that they should have traded him at the deadline, that his value would likely never be higher, but maybe the team was smarter to keep him. He's a nice left-hander to have around. He might not always be as good as he was this year, but he should continue to be a good arm in the pen.
I've always been a fan, when a guy has been with the team for a few years, and you were following him when he was in the minors, you get a bit of an attachment to him. You can't help but feel happy when they have success. He's another one of the 'weighted ball' pitchers who ended up on the DL. I think figuring that one exercise is going to be a cure all is a mistake.