Offseason

Brett Cecil Ends His Long and Winding Journey as a Blue Jay

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After nearly ten years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization – and as a long-standing original member of the Blue Jays, Brett Cecil will no longer call Toronto home. His long and winding journey as a Blue Jay has come to an end.

Jeff Passan reported that Brett Cecil signed with the St. Louis Cardinals to the tune of four years and $30.5 million dollars. Most recently, the Blue Jays reportedly offered Cecil a three year deal, but that fourth year from the Cardinals was the tipping point.

Cecil himself noted on Instagram shortly after the 2016 season had ended:



Honestly, I thought it might be good to play somewhere else. While that may still be true, I’m not ready for Toronto to be “my old stomping grounds”.

The St. Louis Cardinals are getting a fine left-handed reliever in Brett Cecil; one who saw his career take many twists and turns during his tenure as a Toronto Blue Jay.

Brett Cecil began his big league career as most pitchers do; out of the starting rotation. He was called up to start on May 5th 2009 against the Cleveland Indians and provided six solid innings of work, and it was a promising start to the young left-hander’s career.

Very quickly, Brett Cecil shot up the Blue Jays’ starting pitching depth chart and joined the ranks among Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow as the future of the clubs’ starting rotation.

Only years down the road will we begin to appreciate how good Brett Cecil was at his craft.Click To Tweet

The following year in 2010, Brett Cecil posted as decent season; collecting a 15-7 record with a 4.22 ERA. Cecil’s win-loss record provided a cautionary tale about putting too much stock in pitcher wins.

After a few years of meddling in the starting rotation, eventually Brett Cecil slipped all the way back to Double A and was forced to re-invent himself as a reliever. Come 2012, Cecil returned to the Blue Jays roster, but this time it was exclusively out of the bullpen.

It wasn’t until 2012 when Brett Cecil hit the veritable gold mine as one of the most dominant left-handed relievers in baseball. He discovered Steve Delabar’s weighted ball program; something which rejuvenated Delabar’s career, and saw both Cecil and Delabar named as All-Stars in 2013.

Brett Cecil continually improved as a mainstay in the Blue Jays bullpen. However, he was sort of miscast as the Blue Jays “closer” to begin the 2015 season, simply because the Jays didn’t really have any other viable options for people to pitch in save situations.

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By mid-June of 2015, Brett Cecil had worked his way back into the closer role for the Blue Jay. On June 21st, Cecil put forth one of his worst performances as a reliever; 4 earned runs over 0.2 innings. But a few days later, Brett Cecil embarked on one of the most prolific stretches as relief pitcher.

Cecil didn’t give up an earned run in his final 37 appearances of the 2015 season. He pitched 31.2 innings in those 37 games, striking out 44 batters, walking only 4 and he gave up zero earned runs.



The funny thing is … that wasn’t the first time in Brett Cecil’s career when he was practically unhittable.

During the 2013 season, Cecil compiled a stretch in which he faced 36 batters and didn’t give up a single hit. He collected the reliever’s equivalent of a no-hitter (27 consecutive outs with no hits), and even surpassed it.

Brett Cecil was riding a perfect game streak (25 batters without a hit or walk), but it was broken up on June 17th 2013 due to an intentional walk to Michael Cuddyer. But in total, Cecil faced 39 consecutive batters from May 28th to June 21st of 2013 without giving up a hit.

When I look back on the Brett Cecil era, I think it will be with similar feelings I had towards Casey Janssen when he walked away from the organization as a free agent. Cecil was a good soldier with this organization, he had many lows, but he also experienced incredible highs.

As one of the final few members of the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays roster, Brett Cecil experienced his fair share of growing pains, but he also was fortunate enough to wade through all the crap of 2009-2014 to finally be rewarded with postseason berths in 2015 and 2016.

I think many fans will look back fondly on Brett Cecil’s tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays; and maybe only years down the road will we truly begin to understand and appreciate how good he was at his craft.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez “mine” incident. He’ll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

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