When the Jays announced it was Brett Cecil coming up to make Brandon Morrow’s start on Sunday, I wrote that a new perspective on sequencing, gleaned from the teachings of Sal Fasano, suggested Brett Cecil was well on his way to becoming a slop-tossing junkballer. Unable to count on his fastball due to declining velocity and command, he would flip breaking balls and changeups in at an uncommon rate out of desperation.

The Brett Cecil we saw Sunday afternoon was not quite that, I am somewhat relieved to report. Both Cecil and manager John Farrell mentioned his fastball command a key after the fact. The fastball was indeed the pitch Cecil relied on most en route to five innings of five strikeout, one walk, two run ball. A win and everything!

Cecil offered first pitch fastballs (four-seam or what look like two-seam or sinkers to me) 14 of the 21 batters he faced. I have the pitches split 8 FF/6 FS, which is interesting because he threw the two-seamer for a strike only once. Overall, his pitch mix was 25 fastballs, 15 two-seamers, 15 cutters, 19 curves, and 13 changeups. As Cecil mentioned post-game, both home runs came against cutters. Some cutters look like sliders but, for simplicity’s sake, let’s call them cutters and move on.

When Cecil fell behind, he largely stayed with the fastball to get him out of trouble – with one or fewer strikes and two or more balls, he threw fastball almost exclusively. Cecil spread it around when ahead in the count, throwing a good mix of all his offerings when the count was in his favor.

Consider this pitch chart I lovingly crafted with MLB Gameday data courtesy of Joe Lefkowitz’s database (click to enlarge.)

As far as Cecil’s new sequencing plan…you got me. This all seems pretty standard, as far as I can see. Try to get ahead with the fastball and hope from there. He started a few hitters (Ruiz, Pence & Rollins) by doubling up on soft stuff against a few hitters but mostly stuck with fastball/sinker in an attempt to get ahead. He started Carlos Ruiz, arguably the Phillies best hitter, with two soft offerings twice in a row. More Phillies saw first pitch offspeed stuff the second time through the order, as one might have guessed.

In his final frame, Cecil faced the top of the Phillies order for the third time. In this frame, with runners on base, a tiring Cecil offered a glimpse of his junk balling future. He doubled up on the curve against John Mayberry but the Phillies left fielder lined the second curve for a single (after homering on the cutter earlier in the game.) A steady diet of slop got Cecil out of jam after a walk and error put two men on for Hunter Pence.

A satisfactory outing for Cecil, I suppose. Five strikeouts are nice but he coaxed just six swinging strikes on the afternoon. As mentioned Friday, the Phillies rather meagre offense provided a soft landing spot for Cecil’s 2012 debut. Can he continue getting away with it against better lineups? Doubtful.

I truly expected him to pitch “backwards” more than he did. Maybe it will emerge as he faces better lineups and tries getting the same guys out more than twice in a day? Who knows? The state of the rotation being what it is, Cecil is going to get multiple opportunities to show if he can make the teachings of Sal stick. Heaven help us…

Comments (76)

  1. Butthead.

  2. But can he touch 90?

  3. Probably just going to be a tightrope walk for him all season. At points his fastball command was actually pretty scary because it was up so much, thankfully they were balls and not really hittable pitches. Still when you compare Cecil’s likely results to what Drabek was doing you’re not losing out too much. It’s just finding replacements for Morrow and Hutch that’s going to be interesting.

  4. Nice post Drew.

  5. I’ll still take whatever that was in the rotation over Drabek. At least he throws strikes and it’s not like this team currently has any better options.

    It scares me that he’s facing Stanton next, though. There’s no way he’s getting out of that matchup without givng up a HR.

    • Does it count as a homerun if the ball actually goes THROUGH the wall instead of over it?
      What if the hole it leaves is on fire?
      …. Stanton is frightening.

  6. Lee: is complete garbage, Cecil already has a win.

  7. Haha… I recommend listening to Zaun on Tim and Sid today. It’s on the website. Was basically:

    Zaun: from what I hear, Darnaud is all bat. He can’t catch or throw.
    Tim: Didn’t he win defensive catcher of the year from Baseball America in his minor league though?
    Zaun: Baseball America is garbage.

    Where the hell is Zaun getting his supposed scouting reports of the minor leagues?

    • From the same place he gets all his suits!

    • Kudos to Tim and Sid. I think there’s a perception that good-hit catchers can’t possibly have a good glove, even though those skills are not so related. It’s what guys like Zaun depended on for their careers: “Sure, this young guy can hit but can you call a game like ol’ Zaunie over here?”

      It’s sorta like a fat girl who thinks all pretty girls are stupid, even though the distribution of looks and smarts are not related (or actually seem to be positively correlated, IMHO). Because how else would the fat girls justify their existence? “Sure, she has looks but looks aren’t everything. I’ve got a brain!”

      So Gregg Zaun (and Mike Matheny and John Flaherty and Alberto Castillo and Doug Mirabelli and…) are fat girls.

    • Hillbilly Zaun isn’t worthy of the airwaves, same goes for that abomination known as Jamie Cambell. Time for Rogers to get themselves some Rod Blacktion…

    • Zaun also think’s JP is one of the best defensive catchers and loves that he can block balls with the best of them.
      Zaun and the rest of the sportsnet staff as well as the announcers think D’arnaud isn’t ready because of his defense. You know because Jp is so godly at defesne and calling a game.
      It’s almost like AA has to bash D’arnaud defense every time he talks about him. He keeps saying his bat’s ready but his defense isn’t.
      Last year he saidJP defense wasn’t ready so he was working with Waku in spring to get better.
      I’m sorry but D’arnaud has to be better than JP, so fucking call him up around trade deadline if JP is still JP.
      Rant over.

      • Bring D’arnaud up to learn from Waku and deal JP or Mathis.
        If D’arnaud is our 2013 catcher and his bat’s ready AA said so himself then call him up as the backup to JP so he can get familiar with the pitching staff.

        • IMHO it’s as good as done. The first decent trade offer for JPA will see him gone. Nothing against the guy personally or anything but his defence is not that great and his hitting is just too infrequent. A D’Arnaud/Mathis combo would give the Jays above-average performance behind the plate, which they’re not getting now. Think of one of those sci-fi/ghost movies where phantoms are semi-transparent. JPA’s like that already … just not everybody sees it.

          • I agree with your suggestion, but disagree with the reason behind it. They should bring up d’Arnaud as soon as possible but not because he will immediately offer more value than JPA. d’Arnaud will most likely struggle a little bit if he comes up this year, but getting him here as early as possible (if the team deems him ready) will only serve him better in the future. If this year begins to slide out of control with 3 (2 if you consider Drabek’s contributions easily replaceable) starting pitchers done for the year/better part of the year, then what is there to lose from breaking d’Arnaud into the league when his mistakes won’t effect the outcome of this year in a big way. Trading JPA this year makes sense too, with a lot of teams heading into the playoffs needing catching help.

        • But JP needs to be given the chance to hit more BOMBS and reach that milestone.!!

          Right Cito?… Cito??

    • Zaun is such a clown when he’s talking about player personnel and player development. Today, he was ripping Jeremy Guthrie saying that he’s too smart for his own good and overthinks when he’s on the mound (most likely because he shook Zaunie off one or two times while they were in Baltimore together) and then turned around minutes later and advocated for the acquisition of Livan Hernandez.

    • This was absolutely hilarious. He claims that Baseball America is fed what to write by team scouts and GM’s who are just trying to pump their own prospects. Sixiero then jokingly said he wasted 10 bucks on the latest issue of Baseball America he purchased and will now be throwing it out because it’s obviously useless.

      On the subject of Travis Snider, he said he needs to be up here so they can finally see what he can do at the major league level, then 2 minutes later he said Snider has been exposed as a bad player because he’s played up here too often.

      The stuff about d”Arnaud was absolutely ridiculous. According to Zaun, d”Arnaud is EXACTLY what JP Arencebia was 3 years ago. Just when you think Zaun can’t get any dumber…

      • Fucking idiot, must of lost his brains with his teeth.

      • Yeah I remember him saying that last week or something on prime time sports, that d’Arnaud is Arencibia, just three years younger. But, um, I haven’t seen that anywhere. Consensus is entirely that d’Arnaud could be a star player, Arencibia was never projected to be that.

  8. don cherry’s garbage?

  9. someone kick zaun in the nuts every time he speaks into a mic, please

  10. I actually think Zaun and Jamie are pretty good at the in game analysis stuff. ‘Look at how he’s holding his bat’, ‘this was a great play’ etc.

    But when Zaun gives his opinion of what kind of organizational moves the Jays should make, it’s so off the rails.

    • Totally agree! pitch sequencing stuff, when to run, what pitches a hitter should be looking for based on the count etc. etc. from Zaun is fascinating stuff.

      • Agreed. Just when it comes to everything OTHER than that, player management, who to call up, who to acquire, Zaun needs to keep his mouth fucking shut and stick to what he’s good at.

  11. Drew, you deleted my spot on comment.

    I’m done trolling, but i will say this.. that was my first post here in years. I shit you not. I’m way put off by the crew ripping on commentators to DJF posts & just bad Jays fans in general. Why? Because they are clearly fucking morons. Why devote so much time and energy talking about the 10%? Its cheap and easy to do so.

    The rest of us are scratching our heads

  12. Heres a question, and please bare with me if you think I’m an idiot, – i did try to google it first but got lots of conflicting opinions : In this post, you are calling fast balls and sinkers the same pitch? But you differenciante between a fastball and a cutter and I thought a cutter was a fast ball? A slider is a “breaking ball” and so is a curve ball, but they are different pitchs? So could someone please bring me up to speed on the difference between 2 and 4 seam fastballs, cutters, and sinkers? Also, is a change up just a slow fast ball? And if Cecil is gonna be a junk ball pitcher, why doesnt he throw a knuckleball or a screwball? Thanks in advance.

    • Jim, slider breaks down and is thown like a football; curve is more horizontal movement – side to side thrown with a sharp clockwise rotation of the arm (right-handed); screwball is a reverse curve (thrown with opposite arm rotation), knuckball is so specialized guys make a living on that one slow pitch (most often thrown by men with large hands so Cecil may have physiological limitations here, Change up is a deceptive pitch where batters swing at the arm motion and the pitched ball arrives late.

    • In this post I’m referring to two-seamers and four, though there is very little to choose from between them. The break is similar and they are very close in velocity.

      I would call those cutters sliders because they are quite different from the other fbs but he calls it a cutter so who am I to argue?

    • Email me and I will go into more depth, if you like. Hard on the train via my phone.

      • Guess you’re travelling by freight, cause you can’t express yourself.

      • This would make a really interesting, informative post over at Getting Blanked actually, or here if you break it down by Jays pitchers, which would also be really interesting. I’ve always had a general idea about pitch types, but a nice break down would be a really interesting read, Just a suggestion of course.

  13. Go read and troll elsewhere then, douchebag.

    • I assume that’s in response to leroyh’s deleted nonsense?

      • Yes. What a mope.

      • It wasn’t nonsense. Not by definition anyway..

        What I said was accurate as accurate can be, but rude as fuck. Thats why it was deleted. It struck a nerve

        … And i’m done.

        • It was just rude. Do you get paid to write about sports for a living? Show some respect and class is all

        • Leroy, if it makes you feel better to think that you know what was going on in my head, congratulations, I guess.

  14. So, I hear Clemens was acquitted. Hopefully his butthead son will start pitching better now.

  15. He looked alright but he is still leaving his fastball in “smash me the fuck out of the park” territory. His change up and curve that looked pretty solid but again,,,, the fastball looked like the same old same old. It needs to either be faster or lower and more accurate, thats the end of the story.

  16. Just confirmed on tv drabek officially need Tommy John out 12 to 18 months with his seinf TJ surgery

  17. why do so many jays fans bite on the trade/signing rumour mill? not once has it been correct with AA.

    • Agreed but it’s interesting.

      This pitching thing is grim. Every team knows how desperate the Jays are now for starting pitching.

      GM AA: Hey, random GM, what do you want for that AAAA shitballer?
      Random GM: D’Arnaud, but I’ll settle for Gose.
      GM AA: How about a C prospect?
      Random GM: You’ll call back. (Click)

      GM AA to staff: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck me.

  18. Is a second TJ surgery a possible career ender or do most guy do all right with it?

    • I think thw TJ surgury proceedure is for both elbow and shoulder. I know guys have had sucessful restarts with one of each, but unsure if they done so well when a scond surgery is performed on the same afflicted area

  19. Jason Frasor is a survivor of double TJ.
    The doctors are getting pretty good at it now, so he’ll probably come back. How good was he before shredding his arm again is pretty much up in the air.

  20. Hopefully Dr andrews can tighten the fuck out of that arm.
    12-18 months though…..thats a hell of a long time.
    Drabek isnt a huge loss anyways, 12-18 months will give him alot of timw to sit around and think, try to get his shit together. I dont know, he is a dissapointment so far in his career, mabey this will be the turning point for him.

  21. +1.

    Not that anyone’s above criticism but… considering readers are paying $0.00 for the content, maybe the asshole who said that should STFU.

  22. Ok… here’s a further thought

    Does anyone else not fucking understand why Brett Cecil has been in the minor leagues all season and somehow NOT learned to keep his completely average straight as a string 4 seam fastball DOWN in the zone?

    Ok sure his other pitches looked pretty good but really,,, youd think at some point one of the coaches working with him would have said, “shit, his 4 seamer is still super shitty, we should work that out.”

  23. Teach him how to throw a knuckleball.

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