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On Brett Cecil

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MLB: ALCS-Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Thought I’d bump this back up to the page, since Cecil is a used-to-be Blue Jay now. I’ll miss him.


Continuing our little walk through the list of long time Jays that might not be back with the Jays, we come to Brett Cecil.

Brett was our 3rd of 5 first round picks in the 2007 draft, the number 38th pick overall, a supplemental pick to make up for the free agent loss of Justin Speier (the compensation for losing free agents was a bit strange back then). Our other 4 first rounders’ didn’t turn into much: Kevin Ahrens (16 overall), J.P. Arencibia (21), Justin Jackson (45) and Trystan Magnuson (56).

Brett was part of the organization before I started on Bluebird Banter. I’m sure he’s the last player to predate my time on the site.

On our 2009 preseason prospect list, Hugo had Cecil as our number 2 prospect, behind Travis Snider. His worry was that, since he was a reliever for his college team, he might not be able to stand up to the workload of being a starter.

He would get called up in early May, make 4 starts (taking the spot of fellow lefty David Purcey), then sent back to the minors (replaced in the rotation by Casey Janssen) and then get called up again in late June and spend most of the rest of the season in the rotation. He didn’t have great numbers, 7-4 record, 5.30 ERA, in 18 games, 17 starts.

In 2010 he started the season in the minors, but would be called up in mid-April, taking Brian Tallet’s spot in the rotation and he stayed there all season long, finishing 15-7 (tops on the team for wins), with a 4.22 ERA.

2011 was a bad season for Brett. It started bad in spring training when everyone was worried about his velocity right from, seemingly, his first throw of spring. I was of the opinion that he should have been more worried about hitting his spots and less about what it said on the radar gun, but things went downhill in a hurry.

He made 4 bad starts in April and was sent to the minors. After 12 pretty OK starts (considering what a terrible place Vegas was for pitchers), he got called up at the end of June and was somewhat better, until he cut his hand “cleaning out a blender” in September. For the season he was 4-11 with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts.

After a bad spring in 2012, the Jays sent Cecil to Double-A New Hampshire to start the season. He would have 9 good starts for the Fisher Cats, get moved up to Vegas, pitch well there and then called up when Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison would all go on the DL within a week of each other (yes yes, I was at those games). He would make 9 starts, put up a 5.79 and was send back down. When he was called back up in September, he was a reliever.

Pitching in relief was the right move. He had 3 terrific seasons in our pen, putting up ERAs of 2.82 in 2013, 2.70 in 2104 and 2.48 in 2015. Or if you would rather OPS, he held batters to .594, .627 and .562 over the three seasons. The nice part was that he was equally good against right-handed and left-handed batters.

Last year he didn’t give up an earned run after June 21.

This year was a little less terrific. He had a crappy start to the season, missed most of May and June (with a lat muscle tear, his muscles seem to tear easy), was crappy again in July, and then back to being himself in August and September.

Brett’s time with the Jays has been kind of injury filled. He cut his hand on the blender, cut hit thumb slicing chicken breasts, had back problems, had elbow inflammation. And, most famously, tore a calf muscle in last year’s ALDS, which put him out the ALCS. We could have used him.

Brett did good work for us in our playoff runs. In 7 appearances, he allowed just 1 hit, no runs, with 4 walks, 6 strikeouts in 6 innings.

I’ve always been a fan. After 2010, I figured we had a solid piece of the rotation for years to come. It didn’t work out that way. The bullpen was the right fit for him. Until this year, he’s been very consistent, a strong member of our bullpen.

On the Jays all-time leader board (among pitchers) Brett is:

  • 9th in Games Played (330)
  • 6th in Strikeouts per 9 innings (8.03)
  • 9th in Strikeouts per walk (2.57)

I’d guess that, if you were picking the best left-handed reliever in Jays history, it would be between him and Scott Downs.

It is hard to pick out particular memories of Brett, other than the injury in last year’s playoffs. I do remember that in 2010 he beat the Yankees four times; I remember things like that because we never seemed to have any luck against the Yankees.

I hope the team signs him. He’s been an important part of our bullpen for the past few years. It isn’t like we have a bunch of left-handed options for the pen. I doubt that he’d be too expensive, considering he didn’t have the best season.

Share your Brett Cecil memories.