Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Brett Cecil
Season stats: 1-1, 6.89 ERA, 40 G, 32.2 IP, 39 H, 5 HR, 25 BB, 19 K, 6.28 FIP, 1.959 WHIP, 5.2 K/9, -1.0 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 3
Overall grade: F
Positives: Was significantly better in the first half of the season, allowing a .764 OPS against….his strikeout rate per 9 was better in the second half (6.5)….was pretty solid in June, with a .719 OPS against and a 2.25 ERA….limited fourth place hitters to a .200 BAA in 15 at bats….when batters took his first pitch, they only wound up hitting .232….strangely, he was significantly better when the batter was ahead in the count, putting up a .121/.492/.182 line in those 59 plate appearances (granted, that’s a lot of walks)….the first batter he faced in an inning had just a .506 OPS against and batters hit just .205 against him when there were no outs….in 12 high-leverage plate appearances, batters had a .111/.250/.222 line….had a .491 OPS on zero days’ rest….from June 20 to July 10, he threw 9.1 innings and allowed just one run, stranding the only inherited runner he had in that span.
Negatives: When your WHIP is almost two as an pitcher but most notably a reliever, it’s not a good sign….gave up three runs against Milwaukee in his last appearance of the season….had six different outings when he was charged with at least three runs….lefties hit him for a .310/.379/.483 line, which really isn’t good when you are supposed to be a lefty specialist….had a 9.00 ERA away from Busch….only pitched 9.2 innings in the second half but put up a 14.90 ERA in that span….second place hitters got him for a 1.246 OPS….when batters swung at the first pitch they hit .426 and four of the five home runs he allowed came on the first pitch….batters hit .532 in 49 plate appearances where there were no balls in the count….allowed a 1.041 OPS with runners in scoring position….had a 14.40 ERA on one day of rest….had a double-digit ERA against both the Cubs and the Brewers.
Overview: Look, I really don’t like to give out Fs when I’m doing this. These guys are working hard and sometimes the results just aren’t there. That said, when the numbers are as horrific as these are, it’s hard to do anything but hand one of those out. He dealt with shoulder and foot injuries, which may have played a part, but this is the second year of the Brett Cecil Experience and it’s not getting any better. The thought process of locking up a reliever long-term that wasn’t a closer made sense at the time, but it’s hard to say that it’s been anything but a miserable failure. Cecil had his moments in 2017 but took a huge step back in 2018. There were also the comments from John Mozeliak indicating some clubhouse issues (I believe the phrase was “not the person we were expecting”) which don’t help his case either. Cecil spent some time with a sports psychologist during his DL stints and initially looked better when he returned, only to blow up again.
Outlook: Cecil still has two years and $15 million left on his contract. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that the club would waive him–we’ve seen similar moves before though not typically for that long and for that much money–but my guess is they’ll try to see if a fresh start in the spring will help him. I would think that he’s on a very short leash if he does come back for 2019 and unless he is much closer to the 2017 version (or, more ideally, the Blue Jay version the club thought they were getting), he might not see the All-Star Break in Cardinal red.