Brett Cecil had an outing on Sunday that can only be described as brutal. The St. Louis Cardinals new $30.5 million reliever allowed 6 runs without recording a single out. I’ve seen a bit of uproar among Cardinals fans over his outing today. I understand that most Cardinals fans haven’t seen Cecil pitch before since he pitched for Toronto, a team that the Cardinals very rarely play against. Now seems like a good time for a reminder that Brett Cecil is actually a very good pitcher.
It’s important to remember that players will often go about their pitch sequences in different ways during spring training in order to work on certain pitches. This can lead to poor results. Watching Cecil in this outing, he didn’t seem to be working on anything obvious, but we can’t rule that out.
Another thing to consider is that veteran players are often still shaking off rust this early in spring. Cecil came into camp this year with a guaranteed spot in the Cardinals bullpen. His job right now isn’t to get outs. His job is to prepare himself to get outs when they count, during the regular season. He also could very well be working through some soreness, which is extremely common in pitchers in early spring.
A guy with a four-year track record of being a very good reliever deserves the benefit of the doubt after one bad spring outing.
Looking back on the last four spring trainings that Cecil has had since becoming a full-time reliever, it’s a mixed bag. In 2013 he allowed 12 earned runs over 16.1 innings pitched. In the 2014 and 2015 spring trainings combined he allowed 0 earned runs over 11 total innings. And then in 2016 he allowed 4 runs in 4.2 innings.
My point is that you can take absolutely nothing from these numbers. Over that stretch of four seasons Cecil threw 205 innings with a 2.90 ERA and a very healthy 11.5 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Following his worst spring in 2013, he posted a 2.82 ERA in 60.2 innings. He was also named to the American League all-star team that season. It started a three-year stretch where Cecil posted a sub-3 ERA in each season.
I understand the frustrations. I realize that this spring is the first look that most fans have had at Brett Cecil. But with most things that are happening right now, it is so important to remember that it’s still early March. Many veterans around baseball will have bad spring trainings only to have the same type of season that they always do once opening day gets here.
For example, look at Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants. Bumgarner is considered one of the games very best and most consistent pitchers. But over the last two spring trainings, he has a 7.71 ERA in just less than 30 innings. I would imagine there was some concern from Giants fans over these numbers too. But in the end, Bumgarner was the same pitcher as always.
Don’t stress over Brett Cecil’s early outings. Now the multiple injuries the Cardinals have run into…
Those might be worth stressing over.
Thanks for reading!