St. Louis Cardinals: Brett Cecil’s Slow Start is Nothing New
The St. Louis Cardinals signed lefty reliever Brett Cecil to a 4 year, $30.5 million dollar contract but have been disappointed with his performance thus far.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been off to a very slow start to the 2017 season and Brett Cecil has felt that first hand. So far, Cecil has a 7.94 ERA, a 1.588 WHIP, and has a 2.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio but has only pitched in 5.2 innings and faced 26 batters. However, when looking back at Cecil’s career, his April slump is nothing new and could have been expected.
Over the course of his career, Cecil has a 5.08 ERA for the month of April. In last year’s April, through 13 games, he lost five and had a 5.79 ERA with a .900 OPS against. In April of 2015, it was a 5.14 ERA through 7 innings.
“There is a very thin line for a pitcher, especially, as to what to try differently in the offseason and spring training to get you past that hump at the beginning of the year if you’re a guy like this,” Cecil told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I think there is really that fine line between, ‘Should I start earlier, should I start later, should I throw more? How can I get this to maybe take just less time? How can I speed that up, to take less time to figure things out?’”
Cecil and Matheny over the course of the month have discussed changes in Cecil’s schedule in order to speed up the feel for his curveball, his primary pitch. Cecil threw his signature curve 45.5% of the time last seen while featuring a fastball for only 26.4% of the time. The curveball turned Cecil’s career around after he was a fringe starter and saw success in the bullpen back in 2013.
So in order to find Cecil’s groove, Matheny decided that Cecil needed to just pitch.
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“We’re going to throw him in big situations,” Matheny said. “That’s why we got him…That is nothing new for him. He knows that is what he does. He’s one outing away from getting in that good rhythm.”
The entire St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has been one of many issues for the team’s well-being. They have underperformed and outside of Matt Bowman and Trevor Rosenthal, there hasn’t really been any bright spots. Kevin Siegrist, Seung-hwan Oh, Brett Cecil, and Trevor Rosenthal on paper looked like one of the best bullpen cores in the National League. But like Cecil, many haven’t quite found their rhythm.
Cecil also told Goold that his struggles come from “feel” and a timing issue. His lead foot landing and his upper body snapping forward isn’t coordinated and the timing is off. This has lead to his velocity to decrease and his curveball to hang a bit longer instead of darting down.
“We know he’s the kind of pitcher that he is,” Matheny stated. “Just got to get him started. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Next: John Mozeliak Takes Over
The St. Louis Cardinals have 5 wins and 9 losses after picking up 2 straight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ll go for the sweep today and hope to get on a roll before heading to Milwaukee for a four game series there. The Brewers are 8-7 and are second place in the National League Central.