Brett Cecil tied the major league record for consecutive games without allowing an earned run (38) in the first week of 2016, carrying over from a strong 2015 season. However, things quickly went downhill as he went 0-5 with a 5.14 ERA and .339 BAA over 21 first-half appearances. The left-hander missed about six weeks with a torn lat, but showed improvement upon his return. He allowed just one run after Aug. 24 en route to a 3.18 ERA, .221 BAA and 33 strikeouts over 33 appearances (22.2 innings) post All-Star break. Cecil demonstrated great control throughout his turbulent campaign, posting a career-best 2.0 BB/9 while racking up an 11.0 K/9 -- marking the 29-year-old's fourth straight season of managing an 11-plus K/9. He'll have prominent role in the St. Louis bullpen after signing a a four-year, $30.5 million deal.
Cecil struck out the side in a clean seventh inning during Friday's 6-3 win over the Brewers. It took just 12 pitches for the veteran lefty to impressively dispose of Hernan Perez, Jonathan Villar and Eric Thames, all of them on swinging third strikes. Cecil's 6.75 ERA still bears the scab wounds of the four earned runs he gave up against the Cubs on April 6, but he's otherwise been highly effective. In seven subsequent appearances, the 30-year-old has given up just one earned run and four hits over 5.2 innings while also generating a 6:0 K:BB.
Cecil earned his second hold of the season in Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Pirates, firing a scoreless two-thirds of an inning. The veteran southpaw was called upon with two on and one out in the seventh and induced an inning-ending double play from pinch-hitter Jose Osuna to snuff out the threat. Cecil has now recorded four consecutive scoreless outings, slicing his ERA nearly in half from 15.00 to 7.94 in the process.
Cecil earned his first hold of the season in Wednesday's 6-1 victory over the Nationals, getting one out to close out the eighth inning. Bullpen mate Trevor Rosenthal made matters a bit interesting to open the frame, allowing three straight singles that netted a run for the Nationals. After Matt Bowman was brought on and disposed of Anthony Rendon, Cecil was called on to close out the inning against Bryce Harper with Adam Eaton on second and Adam Lind on third. It took seven pitches, but the veteran reliever got Harper to line out to third after running the count full, earning him a well-deserved first hold of the season. Cecil has been generally effective in four of his first five trips to the mound for the Cardinals, with the one glaring exception being an April 6 outing against the Cubs when he gave up four earned runs without recording an out.
Cecil pitched a scoreless inning in Sunday's 8-0 loss to the Reds, surrendering one hit. The veteran reliever bounced back from an appearance against the Cubs on Thursday in which he gave up four earned runs without recording an out. He's sandwiched two one-inning scoreless outings around that game and looks set for a high-usage role in the later innings this season.
Cecil gave up two hits but no runs in one inning during Sunday's 7-4 Grapefruit League victory over the Marlins. He struck out two. Cecil, making his St. Louis debut after eight seasons in Toronto, did it the hard way Sunday. He opened the fourth by surrendering back-to-back singles to Martin Prado and Christian Yelich before setting down Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Bour and Marcell Ozuna, sandwiching a pair of strikeouts of the two sluggers around Bour's fly ball. Cecil, who's also on Team USA's roster for the WBC, brings a career 41-42 record, 4.20 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 78 holds and 11 saves across 656 innings to the Cardinals bullpen.