The Toronto Blue Jays have recalled Brett Cecil from Triple A just before his expected start tonight for Las Vegas. He will now be scheduled for Thursday’s series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In order to make room for him, the Zach Stewart experiment will be put on hold, as he goes back to New Hampshire after giving up a batting title worth of hits to the Detroit Tigers last night.
According to Shi Davidi of Rogers Sportsnet, Carlos Villanueva, who was originally scheduled to start on Thursday will now be pushed back to Saturday, for the all important matinee against Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies. The move is at least in part a means of limiting Villanueva’s innings which have been racking up since the right hander made the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation.
In twelve starts at Triple A, Cecil went 8-2 despite a 5.26 ERA and 4.99 FIP, such is life in the Pacific Coast League I suppose. However, more importantly, the pitcher regained the velocity that he had appeared to have lost during the early going of his 2011 campaign. In four starts at the Major League level, Cecil’s four seam fastball had an average velocity of 88.8 mph. Last season, that same pitch averaged 90.5 mph.
Looking at the speed chart from his last outing before being sent down, my guess is that the loss of velocity had more to do with conditioning than anything else, as the trend is pretty obvious before the last few pitches of his start.
If we learned anything of Stewart during his brief time in the Majors, it’s that, for better or worse, he isn’t afraid to pitch to contact. Opposing batters made contact on 94% of all the pitches they swung at from Stewart, the highest rate on the team. Of the 75 batters he faced in total, 26 got hits.