Brett Aarion Cecil
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 220 lb.
- School University of Maryland
- High School DeMatha High School
- Debut May 5, 2009
Brett Cecil was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays as the 38th overall selection in the 2007 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Tom Burns and made his pro debut that summer. Quickly rising through the ranks in 2008, he started in Dunedin (A), then was promoted to New Hampshire (AA). His experience making several starts in New Hampshire allowed him to move up to Syracuse (AAA). In total, he was the starting pitcher in 28 games and his ERA was 2.88.
Cecil was in contention for the fifth spot in Toronto's rotation in 2009, but as Spring Training started, the team brass felt he needed more time to develop his skills. Before returning to the minors, he was 1-0 in four appearances in Grapefruit League ball, with an ERA of 3.09.
He started the 2009 season with the Jays' new AAA afiliate Las Vegas, but had a rough go of it, going 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA over four starts. His luck soon changed as he was called up to the Majors on May 3rd when the Jays sent down three pitchers and brought up three more, including fellow starter Robert Ray, who was also getting his first taste of "The Show". Cecil started on May 5th in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing six hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings with no walks. He did, however, also hit three batters. Toronto would go on to win the game, 10-6. He went 7-4 in spite of a high 5.30 ERA in 18 games in his rookie season, then took a big step forward in 2010. He established himself as the Jays' second starter behind Ricky Romero, putting together a record of 15-7, 4.22 in 28 starts, striking out 117 in 172.2 innings.
However, just as Cecil seemed about to enter the elite of American League starting pitchers, he struggled mightily early in the 2011 season. He was 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA over his first four starts, giving up 24 hits and 11 walks in 21 innings. Rather than let him work out his problems in the big leagues, the Jays sent him down to AA Las Vegas, where he continued to struggle at first, but then righted things and went 8-2 in 12 starts, with a 5.26 ERA, albeit in a very hitter-friendly environment. He was then called back to Toronto in late June, and was again bombed in his first start, giving up 6 runs in 6.1 innings, before picking up the pace in July. He threw his first career complete game in a losing cause against the Boston Red Sox on July 5th, then won his next two starts and on July 24th pitched the best game of his career thus far, earning his first shutout in beating the Texas Rangers in Arlington, 3-0. he finished the year with a big league record of 4-11, 4.73 in 20 starts.
Wishing to put the previous year's struggles behind him, Cecil showed up in spring training in 2012 33 pounds lighter than the previous year, scaling down from 252 to 219 pounds. Most of the weight loss was a result of switching to a healthier diet, as well as undergoing a more strenuous conditioning program. However, he struggled badly that year, going 2-4, 5.72 in 21 games as a swingman. In 2013, the Jays decided to make him a full-time reliever, and the move proved to be an excellent one. That season, he made 61 appearances out of the bullpen, going 5-1, 2.82 with 70 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. He was named to the All-Star team, a rare honor for a set-up man. He had another good season in the same role in 2014, with a record of 2-3, 5.saves and a 2.70 ERA in 66 games. He was used more often as a straight LOOGY, as his innings pitched fell to 53 1/3, but in spite of that his strikeouts spiked to 76, giving him the highest strikeout rate of his career at 12.8 per 9 innings.
In 2015, the Blue Jays made the postseason for the first time since 1993 and Brett continued to be a key member of the bullpen, making 63 appearances with a record of 5-5 and 5 saves. As had been the case the previous year, he made a high number of very short appearances, limiting his innings to 54 1/3, but his high number of decisions indicated that he was not used solely in match-up situations. He struck out 70 batters and his ERA of 2.42 was the lowest of his career. He made scoreless appearances in the first two games of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, but then was hurt and was not used at all after that. His 2016 season was a tale of two halves: in the first half, he was awful, simply put, going 0-5, 5.14 in 21 games. He was hurt for part of that time, only making 3 appearances in May and June. He then turned things around completely in the second half, with a record 1-2, 3.18 and an excellent K/W ratio of 33/5. In the postseason, he pitched in all three rounds in which the Blue Jays played and did not give up a hit or a run in 4 innings spread over 6 outings, although he did walk three opponents. He became a free agent after the season and on November 19th, it was reported that he had signed a four-year, $30.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, a deal that was exceptional in its length and value for a specialized reliever.
- AL All-Star (2013)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2010)
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