In what has become a recurring theme this series, the Toronto Blue Jays lost another player to injury during Game 2 on Friday along with the ball game.
It looks like Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Brett Cecil will have to wait until next season to continue his scoreless earned run streak, which stands at 27.1 innings. Unfortunately, Cecil suffered a torn calf muscle on Friday, and according to manager John Gibbons, it’s a significant one.
Oct 9, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Brett Cecil (27) is helped off the field by a trainer in the 8th inning against the Texas Rangers in game two of the ALDS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
The injury took place during the eighth inning after Cecil tagged Rangers’ first basemen Mike Napoli, whom he had picked off after Napoli ripped a game-tying single through the hole at second base.
Based off Gibbons’ comments, Cecil is likely done for the remainder of the postseason. This puts the Blue Jays in a bind going forward, as they will now be without one of their most important bullpen arms.
Replacing Cecil won’t be easy either. Not only is he one of two left-handed pitchers in the Jays’ bullpen, he’s also a unique weapon for the Jays, as he is equally dominant against right and left-handed hitters. Boasting a 2.48 ERA with an 11.69 K/9 this season, Cecil was expected to be a key cog in the Blue Jays bullpen this October. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case going forward.
So who steps in to fill the void left by Cecil?
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Probably not. Although both pitchers have had success against left-handed hitters.
What about Mark Buehrle? Gibbons would certainly trust him, but the bullpen isn’t exactly an ideal spot for him either. His limited velocity, approach on the mound, and propensity to put balls in play doesn’t fit the profile of a reliever.
Plus, Buerhle has struggled against left-handed hitters this season, as lefties have a .290 average against him. With five left-handed hitters in the Rangers lineup, it isn’t a good spot for the 36-year-old lefty.
What about Matt Hague?
Sep 22, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays pinch hitter Matt Hague (23) batting against New York Yankees in the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Yankees beat Jays 6 – 4. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Although inexperienced, Hague is a hitter who mashes left-handed pitching, which is something the Jays will see in both of their next two games, as well as possibly Game 5.
In 29 career at bats against major league lefties, Hague has a .310 average to go along with 3 RBI and 6 Ks. While it is a small sample size, he does own a .377/.458/.991 triple slash against lefties in AAA this season.
With Texas sending lefties Martin Perez and Derek Holland to the mound for Games 3 and 4, and left-handed relief pitcher Jake Diekman mowing down Jays’ hitters in Games 1 and 2, perhaps Hague could be a useful right-handed pinch hitter?
I’m not saying let’s start Hague next game, but given the circumstances, why not add a hitter who’s had sustained success against left-handed pitching as opposed to just another bullpen arm?
Who knows, maybe 30-year-old journeyman will be the late inning hero the Blue Jays have been looking for off the bench.
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