Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fun to Watch (Half the Game)

In selling the current iteration of the Toronto Blue Jays, we fans were told over and again how much "fun to watch" this team would be. An exciting brand of baseball was promised, with all manner of hustle, heart, and hyperolic cliches.

While it is true the Jays are exciting to watch, especially if you are partial to guys running around like their hair is on fire or you enjoy the feeling of your stomach and/or bile entering your mouth with each potentially squandered out. But that's only one side of the ball. The other side, the pitching, is a laborious chore.

The Jays starters currently rank last among starting staffs in walk rate, putting on an unsettling 4.35 per 9 via the free pass. As you might assume, they also trail in strikes thrown, meaning not only to they create their own baserunners but fall behind in the count all the time as well.

Taking a quick look at Fangraphs' pace numbers (measuring average time between pitches), you'll find nearly all Jays pitchers rank as below average. Jason Frasor leads the way, as you might imagine, with a whooping 28.5 seconds between his pitches.

It isn't as though the staff is missing as part of some greater organizational philosophy. The pitchers they're trotting out are simply struggling, none more than Brett Cecil.

Reader and frequent commenter Gil Fisher sent me some pitch f/x graphs from Brett Cecil's start last night that he couldn't make any sense of. After looking at the Brooks info and some of my own, I'm just as confused.

It really seems like Cecil is struggling with something — possibly his mechanics — that keeps him from throwing anything with conviction. The same inability to throw his changeup for strikes that plagued him last start continued last night - with a lack of fastball command joining the fun.

If something mechanically prevents him from throwing effectively, we can only hope Papi and friends will fix it straight away. Brandon Morrow might ride in to save the day but Cecil has another 30 starts to make this year, I can't stomach too many more 4 walk, 5 inning performances.

AP image courtesy of Daylife.


  1. I don't think this version of Brett Cecil is making another 30 starts. He'll get two more, probably, and if he can't turn it around, you have to think they'd swap him with Jesse Litsch. Of course, Reyes could flame out first, or Cecil could wind up on the DL.

  2. Good call. I wonder if he isn't fighting an injury

  3. I get the sense that Cecil is way too concerned about his drop in velocity. He may be trying to over-throw the ball and thus affecting his mechanics. Hopefully having all the pitching coaches they do, they can work this out. I was at the game last night so I couldn't get a good sense of his pitching from my angle, but it didn't look pretty.

  4. The walks and high pitch counts shouldn't surprise anyone though. He was king of the 5-6 IP, 100 pitch start last year.

    That's pretty tough to watch him struggle through.

  5. He was just optioned to AAA, and Chris Woodward called up

  6. Well shit. Expect some ugly numbers in Vegas. I, only a guess, predict some "throw only fastballs and chnageups" starts.

  7. Apparently AA (via Wilner) chalks it up mechanics.!/Wilnerness590/status/61144301400371201


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