St. Louis Cardinals: Brett Cecil Was REALLY Bad In Spring Appearance
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Brett Cecil was called upon to pitch the seventh inning of Sunday’s Spring Training game against the New York Mets. The outing was quite underwhelming and disappointing. Should the Cardinals be concerned?
Let me remind our readers that Brett Cecil is an established, left-handed pitcher who had spent his entire Major League with the Toronto Blue Jays as both a starter and reliever before joining the St. Louis Cardinals. Was yesterday a fluke then?
Between 2013 and 2016, he thrived in his role out of the bullpen, averaging an ERA under 2.90, in addition to appearing in nearly sixty games a season over that time. The St. Louis Cardinals signed Cecil to a 4-year, $30.5 million contract following season-ending surgery to fellow veteran lefty Zach Duke.
During Sunday’s Spring Training game, the Cardinals’ offense exploded for thirteen runs in seven innings. Cecil was called upon in what was essentially a “no pressure” situation.
Cecil imploded, and wasn’t able to retire a single Mets batter he faced. Oh and also allowed each of them to score, which cut the Cardinals lead to 13-10. Not exactly what you expect or want to see from your veteran lefty if you’re Mike Matheny.
Let’s review Cecil’s outing.
Mets prospect Travis Taijeron sent the first pitch he saw from Cecil into left field for a double. Cecil then walked Patrick Biondi on four pitches, and also walked rookie Matt Reynolds on four pitches to load the bases. Walks are a bad thing for a relief pitcher– end of story (but it isn’t).
T.J. Rivera sent Cecil’s next pitch into left field for a single, scoring both Taijeron and Biondi, and advancing Reynolds to 2nd base. Wuilmer Becerra hit a shot to third that Patrick Wisdom couldn’t handle, which allowed Reynolds to score. Luis Guillorme then crushed a three-run homer over the left field wall on the first pitch.
Cecil’s final linescore: 0.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 ER, which comes out to a 27.00 ERA. Ouch.
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There are two things of major concern with this atrocious performance. First off, all of the Mets batters he faced have seen little-to-no Major League playing time. Taijeron is a prospect who’s never made it past AAA-ball. Biondi has never made it past A (and he’s 25 years old!). Reynolds and Rivera were both called up to the Majors last season but saw limited playing time, and Guillorme also has never made it past A-ball. This a Major League pitcher facing minor league talent, and he was absolutely rocked.
Secondly, five of these batters were right-handed, and two of them he walked on eight pitches. The other three all swung at first pitches that were hit hard.
Guillorme was the only left-handed batter he faced, and he took Cecil deep to the OPPOSITE FIELD on the first pitch. Yes, the wind was blowing out to left field, but Guillorme is a player who is more known for his defense (and his now famous “chill” bat snag), yet he was able to hit a home run off of a veteran lefty.
Is Cecil going to be effective against right-handed hitters, or is this just going to be another Randy Choate situation?
Cecil hasn’t exactly been historically great during Spring Training. Including Sunday’s game, Cecil has a 5.20 ERA in 100.1 IP and forty-nine appearances, to go along with a 1.48 WHIP.
Maybe it just takes him a while to work out the kinks in his delivery during Spring Training, as he’s proven to be a consistent middle to late inning reliever throughout his tenure in the Major Leagues. Maybe he just had a really bad day, as they happen to everyone.
Next: Spring Training Check-in
Cecil will need to perform well in his next Spring Training outing if he wants to gain the confidence of Matheny, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, and Cardinal Nation as a whole. He also will need to prove he can be effective against right-handed hitters and Major League talent. Let’s all hope that he’s ready to go once these games start to count.