St. Louis Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil has been used in limited mid-to-late innings by Manager Mike Shildt since his return from the DL August 16.
Something that has given me 'food for thought' regarding Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil and his appearance Wednesday afternoon.
As is human nature for fans, a scapegoat is needed to blame for runs given up. Especially runs given up in a loss.
He came into Wednesday's game in the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves. Only faced four batters at the plate. Got his first out on a grounder. Tyler Flowers stung him with a 'solo' home run. Then, Cecil took down his next two hitters faced with 2 K's. In his total 3.2 relief innings this month, that was his first home run/earned run given up in his five appearances.
When he was called to the mound, Braves held a 6-3 lead. Five of those runs given up by starter Jack Flaherty. But, a statement made by one Cardinals fan, Cecil 'lost the game for us - again'.
I suppose if one needs a scapegoat for the loss, one particular player, he might be the newest one this season to lay blame on. Kind of takes the pressure off closer Bud Norris. But in Cardinals' 7-3 loss Wednesday, it was a team loss, in my opinion. Pitching was off and the offense did not have their fire power of the first two games.
Yes, when Cecil comes to mound, I get a bit nervous.
As all Cardinals relievers have done, he has made his appearances when and actually "done his job' more than what you may be aware of.
Relievers are relied upon for their precision pitching necessary usually for one inning. Some relievers can be counted on to take care of long relief. However, those are specialty pitchers - rare, far and few between.
Actually for Cecil's appearances this month, Cardinals have lost all five games. His fault? NO, it was not. I'm thinking a lot a factors "didn't do well" in all five games.
Prior to yesterday, he had only give up two hits, along with two walks but did not allow a run this month. For September he is holding a 2.45 ERA. Much improved over his July-August with an 11.15 ERA/12.46 ERA, respectively. For a reliever, the least amount of mistake in minimal innings pitched is an immediate effect on his average.
Cecil missed the first month and a half this season due to shoulder strain, activated May 12. His second DL stint (July 23-Aug 16) was due to inflammation in his right foot.
Making 39 game appearances this season, Cecil has given up three earned runs in only five of those appearances:
POST DL VISIT #1 - Shoulder
May 28 - against Brewers - Cardinals 8-3 loss. Starter Weaver, 4 IP/2 ER/4 Runs. Reliever Mike Mayers, 2 IP/1 ER and Cecil 1 IP/3 ER. Cardinals within two runs of the lead when Cecil entered the game.
July 20 - against the Cubs - Cardinals 18-5 win - but in the seventh, a lead of 16-1, Cecil did give up his second game of three run ball.
July 22 - against the Cubs - Cardinals 7-2 loss. Mikolas 5 IP/2 ER, Mayers 2 IP/2 ER, Cecil .01 IP/3 ER. But, when Cecil was called up, Cardinals were only two runs behind in the bottom of the eighth. Which the Cardinals had been held to those two runs from the second inning on as they took an early lead. Cardinals were shutdown in the top of the ninth, game over.
POST DL VISIT #2 - Foot
August 25 - against the Rockies - Cardinals 9-1 loss. Gant 7 solid IP/1 ER. Hudson, 0.1 IP/3 ER. Cecil, 0.0 IP/3 ER. Mayer, 0.0 IP/2 ER followed by Weaver to close the eighth.
August 31 - against the Reds at Busch Stadium - Cardinals 12-5 win - Cecil in the eighth, 0.1 IP one runner on 1 HR/2 ER, with a RBI sac-fly for his third.
In Cecil's remaining 34 games played, 27 of those he allowed no runs. The remaining seven games with only one earned run given up.
The "one" loss Cecil has actually been credited with? Was May 15 facing the Twins on the road. Flaherty went 5.2 IP/1 ER to tie the game. Cecil followed in the sixth, got the final out. Returned for the seventh and a allowed one hit, a double. Retired, Luke Gregerson to replace Cecil, giving up a RBI on a bunt single. Cecil handed the loss.
Is it Cecil's intent, as he is called to the mound, 'yep, today I'm just going to give up the farm'? I highly doubt it. Some with inherited runners do well one game, maybe not so much another. Some with an inning all their own, give up runs. And, as I look, none of our relievers have an 0.00 average at this point in the season.
As fans do, they tend to remember the less than stellar pitching by a certain pitcher versus the innings of solid pitching.
I have not been totally sold on Cecil due to performances he had with the Cardinals in 2017. However, since he has returned from his second DL visit this season, he hasn't been quite as scary to watch.
Was he responsible for the Cardinals loss in the final game against the Braves ~ definitely not. None of the TEAM was lightning hot yesterday.
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