Cecil has seen a resurgence this year since being relegated to the bullpen, despite leading the team with 15 wins as a starter in 2010.
Three years ago is a lifetime in the baseball world.
According to FanGraphs, his velocity nearly dipped below 88mph, and with that comes less strikeouts and more hits. Until this year, his K/9 hovered around seven per game. This year, in what you could call a very specialized role as a lefty out of the bullpen, his fastball has averaged 92.3mph and his WHIP is at an all-time best 1.125.
Unfortunately, the second half of Cecil's All-Star season has been less than remarkable.
As of today, his ERA has gone from 1.94 to 2.89 and he has given up almost as many runs in 12 appearances (eight), as he did in his first 41 (10). Brooks Baseball has identified a very significant change in his strategy from June to August.
In June, Cecil threw his curveball 41.83 percent of the time. July saw less of the curveball, and a 10 percent increase in fastball usage. August is almost a mirror image of the previous months. The cut fastball has taken priority and the use of his curveball and the change-up is almost non-existent.
In his last 16 innings, he's walked 11 batters and his WHIP has taken a beating. But, that sudden lack of control is in direct correlation to the pitch selection over the course of the last three months.
When throwing strikes—especially the deuce for a strike on the first pitch—it can dictate the rest of the at-bat. If unable to get that first pitch over, you have to rely on your fastball to get ahead. In today's age, when everything single pitch of every game is recorded, everyone in the game will have the same information.
That curve you were getting over for strikes is being taken for a ball, resulting in a 1-0, not 0-1. The whole outlook of the AB changes.
Corrections happen for a reason, most likely due to batters hitting .267 when Cecil throws the hammer. Prior to June 1, .128.
Cecil has transformed his game, there's no doubt about that, and this bump in the road could be just that, a bump. For someone who led the team in wins just a short time ago, and battled his way back through the minors in 2011 and 2012, a rough few innings in the dog days of summer shouldn't affect a body of work that has been so good up until now.