Brett Cecil came into the 2015 season with the Toronto Blue Jays’ closing job locked down. John Gibbons entrusted him with the highest leverage situations a reliever has to endure and thought Cecil would be solid like he was in previous years.
Fast forward to the second game of the regular season. Cecil comes in for the ninth inning and all he does is blow the save in only 1/3 of a inning. It didn’t stop there, in the month of April, Cecil sported a 5.14 ERA with 1 save under his belt. He was relieved of his duties as closer immediately after a few horrid outings in April. From then on he was the forgotten man in the bullpen. Some fans cringed when he was brought into the game, and they should have, as evidenced by his 9.00 ERA in June. Cecil was used less and less and the Blue Jays bullpen were blowing games left and right. They tried Miguel Castro after Cecil and he faltered as well and earned a demotion to AAA. Cecil logged 29.0 innings before the All-Star game and had a 4.66 ERA, not good enough to be trusted with high leverage situations.
Roberto Osuna, the 20-year-old with only A ball experience was trusted with the closer job and hasn’t looked back since. With the reassurance that games were being handled in the back end of the bullpen, manager John Gibbons slowly worked Cecil into blowouts, or lower leverage situations, and Cecil slowly worked his way back to his 2014 form. Since his awful June, Cecil has had a 0.00 ERA, yes you read that right. He’s restricting opponents to a .159 batting average and has allowed only 11 hits in 19.0 IP . He hasn’t allowed an earned run since the end of June. He’s back to his high leverage situations and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Blue Jays.
The additions of Mark Lowe, LaTroy Hawkins, Bo Schultz and Aaron Sanchez, back into a setup roll, all helped add depth to the bullpen and let Cecil ease his way back into a comfort zone and allow him to be the best he can. He has not allowed a run since the All-Star break, he had a Blue Jays’ scoreless streak record at 26 before an unearned run ruined it. Brett Cecil has regained the confidence of fans, the manager and most importantly himself.
His renewed confidence from his manager was on display when he was given the job to get out of a sticky situation last night against the New York Yankees. Aaron Sanchez walked the lead off man, then allowed a single to Dustin Ackley. There were runners on the corners in a 4-0 game. John Gibbons was taking no chances. In came Cecil. After allowing a soft run-scoring single to make it a 4-1 game, Cecil shut it down. He struck Brett Gardner out looking on a high curveball. Struck out Alex Rodriguez swinging on another curveball, and Brian McCann followed suit striking out another curveball. Everyone felt it, that inning was electric, fans were louder than ever at the Rogers Centre and Cecil came off the mound with a fist pump, fired up. The fans gave him a standing ovation as he left the field and from that moment on you knew the game was over.
Brett Cecil was back. His devastating curveball, that was missing all through the first half was back and stronger than ever. There’s faith in Cecil, the Blue Jays’ bullpen has been the best since the All Star break and Cecil is a large part of it. As for now, Brett Cecil is lights out, and for Toronto’s sake it lasts through the playoffs.