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St. Louis Cardinals: Brett Cecil is a Second-Half Monster

Brett Cecil throwing in Spring Training

Through four games this season the St. Louis Cardinals have been one frustrating team. The offense has been quiet and the bullpen has let them down with the lone bright spot being the starting rotation. As fans, we have to keep reminding ourselves that a four game stretch like this in July wouldn’t be a big deal. There are positives to take from this first week, and reasons for optimism moving forward.

One player that’s been in the middle of the bullpen letdown has been Brett Cecil. I wrote about why we shouldn’t worry about him in Spring Training after a bad performance and I’m doing the same now. The perception of him is not very good at the moment with his performance after signing a $30 million contract. This is a very good reliever though. I remain adamant about that.

Cecil was brought into the game on Thursday and the shenanigans started almost immediately. He struck out the first batter but the ball stuck to Molina’s chest protector in one of the most bizarre plays I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, Cecil seemed to unravel. He walked Jon Jay and gave up a huge 3-run homer to Kyle Schwarber.

One interesting thing I’ve found when looking at Cecil’s numbers are his first and second half splits. His second half performances over the last three seasons have been head and shoulders above his first half performances.

2014

IP ERA FIP K/9 BB/9
1st Half 29.1 3.68 2.55 11.35 5.52
2nd Half 24 1.5 2.09 14.63 3.38

2015

IP ERA FIP K/9 BB/9
1st Half 29 4.66 4 10.24 3.41
2nd Half 25.1 0 0.45 13.14 0.71

2016

IP ERA FIP K/9 BB/9
1st Half 14 5.14 4.15 7.71 1.93
2nd Half 22.2 3.18 3.32 13.1 1.99

As you can see, he looks like a pretty average pitcher in the first half. Only to go on and dominate in the second half. It’s important to note that he dealt with an injury during the 2016 season, which seems to be skewing his numbers a bit.

The most impressive one to me was the 2015 splits. Cecil allowed 4 earned runs on June 21st, 2015. After that game his ERA sat at a very ugly 5.96. It looked like he was having a lost season. From that point on, he didn’t allow another run. He went 37 straight appearances, totaling 31.2 innings, without surrendering a single run. That’s a stretch of dominance that not many relievers are capable of.

I think the important thing to take away here is that for whatever reason, it seems to take Cecil a while to get in a groove. He has been a pitcher that has seen multiple rough stretches in his performance. But for each of those there have been a completely dominant stretch to go with it.

You should expect his numbers to look very good by the end of the year.

Thanks for reading!

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