St. Louis Cardinals: Brett Cecil, the bad choice incumbent fall-back closer

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 21: Brett Cecil
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 21: Brett Cecil /

The St. Louis Cardinals are still searching for a new closer but should they fail to land one this offseason, who already on the squad would be the incumbent fall-back option?

The St. Louis Cardinals still need to improve the club this offseason. One way to do so is by snatching a closer. This is no secret and the club has made it clear that this is a goal for the offseason. While little has transpired in this matter, the front office seems busy working to find one.

As Spring Training approaches, we may need to temper our expectations for the club grabbing a closer. I don’t believe this will be the case as I trust that the front office will sign either Addison Reed or Greg Holland before pitchers and catchers report. That said, what options might exist should the team fail to fulfill the closer wish?

Over the next couple of posts, I plan to review a few of the names already on the St. Louis Cardinals squads for potential closer fall-backs. Today, I want to focus on what to me seems a bad option: Brett Cecil.

In his career, Cecil has recorded a whooping 12 saves in 9 years of MLB service. This certainly does not engender trust that Cecil could do the job but does show that he has at least appeared in the role at times in his past. Albeit, these appearances have not come with the actual label.

Cecil’s first save of his career came with the Blue Jays in 2013. This year, coincidentally or not, was the year that Cecil was an All-Star selection. In 2013, he appeared in 60.2 innings, recorded 70 strikeouts, achieving a 1.104 WHIP, and 2.88 FIP on an ERA of 2.82.

2014 and 2015, also with the Blue Jays, saw Cecil record five saves each year. His ERAs in those years were 2.70 and 2.48. These are the statistics that attracted the St. Louis Cardinals to this southpaw. In ’14 and ’15, Brett Cecil recorded 76 and 70 strikeouts but- despite these great numbers- did not find himself with an All-Star selection.

Interestingly enough, Cecil recorded one save with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017– his first season with the redbirds. Again, in this instance, Cecil was not wearing the closer title but rather pitched in an inning that handed him the save.

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So, should the St. Louis Cardinals look to Brett as a possible closing option? While he could pitch late in games, as he often does, I’m not sure he has the stuff to be a closer. Now I know many readers may filet me for this sentence since I had suggested that Adam Wainwright get a shake or two at closing, but I’m really concerned with Cecil’s inability to find the NL plate without surrendering damaging hits.

And I’m justified in this concern. In the years in which he recorded saves for the Blue Jays (likely many from simply pitching in the right late inning to have the official scorer hand him the save), Cecil surrendered hit counts of 46, 39, and 39 in 53.1, 54.1, and 36.2 innings.

Last year, after moving to the St. Louis Cardinals, Cecil surrendered some 67 hits in 67.1 innings. This accrued him a 1.233 WHIP. These numbers just won’t work for a closer. Sorry.

If I were running the St. Louis Cardinals, and thank goodness I’m not, I would be very wary about turning to Cecil in closing situations. The club simply cannot trust Cecil to not surrender hits when asked to come close the door.

Next: Rotations of the NL-Central

Stay with me over the next couple of posts as I look at other names on the roster already as possible fall-back closers. Thanks for reading!