With the St. Louis Cardinals opening day matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers only a little over two weeks away, Brett Cecil may be facing a diet overhaul in order to accommodate his pitching mechanics that could prevent him from being included on the 25 man roster.
I feel I need to begin this entry by highlighting Brett Cecil’s work ethic this offseason. His determination to come back to spring training camp a better version of himself in order to better prove himself to an often unreliable St. Louis Cardinals bullpen should be recognized and applauded.
I’m not sure what went into the decision to lose this drastic amount of weight this winter but it’s very evident he wanted to come to spring camp a more dynamic and athletic pitcher in order to improve his performance in this crucial year of his Cardinals tenure.
The repercussions as a result of this significant weight loss, to his and our dismay, bore negative results in his recent outing against the New York Mets earlier this week. Following his less than optimal appearance, he touched base with the team’s trainer in order to reevaluate his diet goals.
Brett Cecil pitched last season at around 235 lbs and showed up to Jupiter this spring at around 200 lbs dropping roughly 35-40 lbs. As you can guess, this would have at least some impact on the way he delivers each pitch and his overall pitching motion, as he wields a five-ounce baseball as hard as his body can muster at the catcher’s mitt.
Being a pitcher myself, mechanics are everything. It’s important when pitching that everything is completely repeatable. Even the smallest tweak in this process can throw off even the most seasoned veteran. As the old adage says, “Baseball’s a game of inches.” At least I think it’s an adage?
Anyways, with losing this much weight, it’s obvious this kind of major change in body mass would cause major problems in his delivery. It’s something Cecil will have to continue to perfect and work on over the course of the rest of spring. He’ll have to prove to Mike Shildt that he can adapt to his lower weight and ultimately contribute for the St. Louis Cardinals.
His road to that spot in the bullpen may be a bit different this year, though, because of this roadblock in regaining some weight and adjusting to a different mechanical approach. It has been noted that Cecil could very well start the season on the now injured list (that name is still ridiculous in my mind #bringbacktheDL) and continue his rehabilitation in Jupiter.
It’ll be a huge plus if Cecil can bounce back from his rough first two years in St. Louis and show Cardinals nation that he can be a staple in the back of the improved 2019 bullpen. He still has two years left on his four-year, $30,500,000 contract that he signed back in 2016.
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I truly hope Cecil can turn things around in 2019 and share the left-handed duties with new signing Andrew Miller and last year’s trade acquisition former Yankee Chasen Shreve. However, if Cecil continues to completely under perform at the rate he was last season, the Cardinals could be faced with serious decisions in what to do with him.
It is encouraging to see Brett Cecil taking his job seriously and that he is constantly looking for ways to improve himself, however it’s also equally discouraging to see him continually struggle even after he worked his tail off last offseason.
I want to leave you all with this final thought. The bullpen could be extremely good this year. If you look at the current collection of pitchers the Cardinals have now in the majors and in AAA, you’ll see a ton of depth composed of quality arms. A combination of an improved Hicks, bounce back Miller, healthy Reyes, whatever role Carlos Martinez could potentially play in the bullpen, and a reformed Cecil?
And to think I didn’t even mention AAA arms like Dakota Hudson, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley gives you the perspective of the tools Shildt has to work with. I’m not saying we have the best bullpen in the league, I think that’s a stretch of a claim.
I am saying this St. Louis team could put together a scary combination of young, growing talent with veterans that know how to get the job done on a nightly basis that could make even the best offenses in baseball anemic in the later innings.
If Brett Cecil can put his game back together and act as a serviceable lefty out of the bullpen, that would be a great thing. If he can’t though, I am sure the St. Louis Cardinals will have no qualms ending Cecil’s time in St. Louis.