Penciling Brett Cecil into the Starting Rotation
|Image courtesy of Daylife via AP|
Last week, John Farrell remarked that Brett Cecil is one of two players (the other being Colby Rasmus) that the club is really counting on to contribute to the team’s success in 2012.
While most fully expect Rasmus to improve on his roller coaster 2011, I’m not so sure the same can be said about Brett Cecil. He may be one candidates to take one of the three remaining spots, but I really only feel comfortable penciling Brett Cecil into the Blue Jays starting rotation.
In my eyes, Brett Cecil is like a left-handed version of Shaun Marcum minus the control; a soft-tosser who strikes out his share of batters with a changeup, but who has trouble leaving pitches up in the zone.
Brett Cecil’s starts in 2011 had a “buckle-up, brace for impact” vibe to them. A “plan for the worst, hope to escape out of the fifth inning” quality.
Whenever I sat down to watch a Brett Cecil start, I had no idea what to expect. Suffice it to say, I guess that makes me a poor choice to be the president of the Brett Cecil Fan Club.
John Farrell has lofty expectations for Brett this year, but frankly I feel like we’ve already seen the best we’re going to see out of Brett Cecil. 2010 was a career year for Cecil aided by a favourable win-loss record, but maybe that season was his peak.
I’m in the camp that an eventual move to the bullpen would likely benefit Brett Cecil the most. Working in short stints a reliever rather than long outings as a starter could help keep his control … under control. Heck, if it worked for Jesse Litsch, why not Brett Cecil?
As time has progressed, it’s beginning to become evident why the Blue Jays made the decision to transition Jesse Litsch from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Litsch was seemingly a guy the Blue Jays could count on for 5-6 innings, and that’s why the move seemed like a bit of a head-scratcher at the time.
I think the key here is Listch was “okay” as a starter, but he wasn’t “great”. After Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, the Blue Jays could very easily find three “okay” starters like Litsch or Cecil to occupy the back end of the rotation.
In order to be a 90-win team though, they’re going to have to raise the bar and rely on “good” starters. It’s one thing to have a back-end rotation comprised of innings eaters, but it’s another to have starters who can throw quality innings.
That’s why if I had to fill out the depth chart for the starting rotation today, Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek get my vote ahead of Brett Cecil. There’s a huge amount of upside with both of those guys, and I just can’t imagine Cecil ever pitching better than he did in his sophomore campaign.
I don’t actually mind Brett Cecil in the starting rotation for the interim. Barring any injuries or trips to the minors, the Blue Jays can probably depend on him for 150 plus innings this season. Cecil’s experience should also give Farrell a semblance of some familiarity in the back end of the rotation.
That being said, the ideal starting rotation that I envision over the next few seasons does not include the services of one Brett Aarion (no, that’s not a typo) Cecil. The potential exists for Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek to quickly eclipse Brett in the Blue Jays depth chart.
All this may be asking a bit much of the number four or five starter, but frankly … if the Blue Jays want to make a run in the next few years, they need to know whether Brett Cecil can handle the workload and put forth quality innings.
And if he can’t, there are plenty of other starters they could use to fill the void.