Sitting down to right another post (one that'll hopefully surface later today) I quickly learned Brett Cecil was pretty effing special tonight. His ongoing study in the advanced art of change-uppery is a site to behold.
The moderately hapless Indians were rendered completely without hap by Cecil's changeup, thrown in nearly equal measure to his fastball(s). The magic of Pitch F/x let's us appreciate an incredible start like this on another level. Strike zone plots help Jimmy play, and show how staying out of the middle of the plate is a very good thing.
A couple things to remember: the strike zone isn't actually shaped this way. Again I rounded the corners to give a better representation of what umps actually call, but the strikezone isn't wider than it is tall. I just do that to fill the frame a little more and give a better sense of where each pitch crossed. Again, we're looking from the catcher or ump's perspective, left handed batters stand on the right of the diagram.
So. Awesome. Cecil had incredible control of all his pitches Monday night; throwing his change almost exclusively to the righties in the Tribe's lineup, keeping them off-balance with his sinking fastball, thrown to the same half of the plate. Cecil spotted his fastball decently and threw his nasty slider and a few curves against the tough lefties (Choo, Sizemore, & Hafner) and generally looked every bit the stud.
That he kept the ball down and away from righties with both his hard sinker and feathery changeup is incredible. Cecil earned 5 big whiffs with his change, 12 total raising his season rate. That's how you amass 10 Ks in 8 innings, bringing that season total to 21. Against 3 walks. In 20+ innings. Bonertown.
Interesting: Cecil threw 29 four seamers, 27 two seam or sinking fastballs, 24 changeups, and 20 sliders. Wacky. That is some Shaun Marcum, any pitch in any count shit right there.
Further to that point, Cecil dangled his vaunted changeup in any number of counts.
- First pitch change: 4 times.
- 1-0 change: 4 times.
- 1-1 change: 4 times.
- 2-1 change: Twice.
- 0-1 change: 3 times.
- 0-2 change: Once.
He worked quickly and he worked well. We're all better for it. The Brett Cecil that crushed the Tribe last night isn't the same pitcher that crushed the Tribe last year: he's a new man with a terrible new weapon.
Pitch f/x data courtesy of good old Brooks Baseball. Check out their new forum & blog, they do an invaluable service. Image courtesy of Surfer Mag. THEY COULD BE BROTHERS AT LEAST