Cecil and Ray more than okay

When J.P. Ricciardi summoned Brett Cecil and Robert Ray from the minors at the beginning of May, the Jays’ general manager was simply looking for a couple of arms to plug holes in an injury-riddled starting rotation. In fact, when asked why Ray — a pitcher who had yet to appear at Triple-A — got the call to the bigs, Ricciardi offered the following:

BASEBALL/“Well … he’s healthy. He’s healthy and it’s his turn to throw. We’ve just got to hope that they (fill-ins Ray and Cecil) give us a chance to win.”

And then he braced himself — or so it would seem. Boy how things change, though.

Since that time, Ray and Cecil have made three starts apiece, going a combined 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in those six games. Remarkably, that bests Toronto ace Roy Halladay’s mark of 2.95 through his first eight starts this year (the same Roy Halladay who arguably trails only Zack Greinke in this year’s early race for AL Cy Young honours).

‘Just try and keep us in the game,’ Cecil and Ray were told by Ricciardi and manager Cito Gaston upon their call to the majors. ‘Just hold down the fort until we get our injured arms back.’

Well, they’ve done that and more – highlighted by two big wins this weekend for the Blue Jays, who now sport a record of 25-14, two-and-a-half games ahead of the Boston Red Sox for first in the always tough AL East division. 

Cecil got things started with a solid performance against the White Sox Friday night, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Jays, after all, had just lost back-to-back games to the New York Yankees, including a 3-2 defeat Thursday in a game in which they could have easily come out the winners.

The 22-year-old Cecil turned the page though with a quality start, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings of work. The Jays offense took care of the rest. In fact, Cecil had an eight-run cushion into the fifth, and the Blue Jays cruised to an 8-3 win.

If Cecil was solid on Friday, Ray was superb on Saturday against the Sox. The 25-year-old earned his first big-league win this afternoon, giving up just one unearned run on three hits over eight innings as the Jays secured a big come-from-behind win to take Game 2 of this series with Halladay set to take the mound tomorrow.

Ricciardi and Gaston now have a problem. But it’s a good problem to have. With the return of Ricky Romero and Casey Janssen, the Blue Jays have – at least, for the time being – too many arms and not enough spots in the rotation. Indeed, it’s a situation that would have seemed laughable mere weeks ago. But, here we are. So what’s the decision?

“We’re breaking tradition,” Ricciardi told the Toronto Sun Friday night. “We’re going to ride the hot horse.” What that means is the GM is going to stick with Cecil and Ray in the rotation as long as they continue to pitch the way they have. 
“The guys up here (now) haven’t done anything not to deserve to be pitching,” Ricciardi said. “Right now we don’t have a spot for them (Romero and Janssen).”

So for now, the Jays will roll out Halladay, Scott Richmond, Brian Tallet, Cecil and Ray. It’s a rotation in stark contrast to the one on opening day (Halladay, Jesse Litsch, David Purcey, Romero and Richmond).

But hey, it’s working.

4 Responses to “Cecil and Ray more than okay”

  1. eyebleaf Says:

    What a bloody performance from Ray.


  2. James Says:

    Great pitching. Fascinating that they’re sticking with them.

    Great post.

  3. TD Says:

    I think, most importantly, it shows that Ricciardi wants to win now. It looks like he wants to see how far this team (and these pitchers) can keep this up. Good on him.

  4. James Says:

    Still, I hope they don’t use this as an excuse to renew his contract. JP still needs to go. Signing Cito was the best move he made for the team.

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