Why beat around the bush? Brett Cecil's last three starts haven't been pretty. It's simple - his change up just isn't getting it done like it was. People aren't swinging at it, he isn't throwing it for strikes. The totality of the problem? Of course not. But I think the beginning of this season proved he needs it to get right handed hitters out.
The first thing you should notice is the lack of swinging strikes. He only registered one against the Padres and none versus the Phillies. His start against the Cardinals actually featured 6 whiffs, but very little tangible success. He also threw it far less against the Cards than usual.
The change can be a tough pitch to control, as Keith Foulke can attest. Sometimes it just refuses to stay in the strike zone long enough to force hitters to respect it. It is the only problem but I feel like many of Cecil's problems can be traced back to it.
His strike outs are down in June, his already-low strand rate is teeny tiny. His home runs are to a manageable-but-not-enviable level. Interestingly, or depressingly, Cecil's xFIP is exactly the same for May and June. 4.00. Still good, but a slight uptick in batting average on balls in play, a slight decrease in runners stranded and boom: trouble.
My biggest concern with Brett Cecil is his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark and strike dudes out. Cecil keeps it in the park much more this year, but the Ks just aren't really there. He struck out tons in the low minors but hasn't kept it up in the big leagues.
This isn't to suggest I think Brett Cecil is a 4.00 FIP third starter and that's that. Call me crazy but I believe he can continue to improve in the future, adding strikeouts and further limiting walks while maintaining his current groundball attack. Does that mean we'll keep seeing 4.00 ERA/FIP Cecil in 2010? Probably. He won't be this bad for long, a couple bounces and he's good. We're all good.
Splits from Fangraphs, Gameday data from Joe Lefkowitz.