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When Toronto Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil throws his curveball, opposing batters are mostly missing, hitting just .161 against the pitch this year.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Brett Cecil throws one of the nastiest curveballs in baseball, one that constantly has hitters corkscrewing themselves into the ground trying to lay wood on the elusive pitch.

Cecil's breaking ball bends sharply downward toward the end of the pitch's trajectory.

If you are looking at a clock face, the ball dips roughly from 12 to 6. Even though hitters know to anticipate the big hook, they are often left flailing at a pitch that tumbles well out of the strike zone.

"Once I get two strikes, everybody knows what's coming," the Toronto Blue Jays reliever said earlier in the week.

But even Cecil, who throws the pitch more than any other reliever in the majors, has difficulty trying to explain the nuances behind what makes his curveball so effective.

The 29-year-old has this plan to go all high-tech with a mini-camera just so he can get a better understanding of the pitch and the almost mesmerizing affect it can have on would-be batters.

"I've always wanted one of the catchers to wear a GoPro or something because I want to see how it looks, the spin on it and everything, from the hitter's perspective," Cecil said. "The catchers tell me it looks like a fastball only the bottom suddenly drops out."

"The fact that it looks like a fastball and the fact that it's so hard, the hitters have very little time to choose one way or another whether or not to swing," Cecil said. "By the time they do decide I guess it's too late." With the Blue Jays on the verge of clinching their first postseason berth since 1993, Cecil's continued effectiveness out of the bullpen will play a pivotal role in the team's ultimate success.

For a pitcher who failed miserably earlier in the season when given the opportunity to be Toronto's closer, it has been an incredible turnaround for Cecil.

He has been on a terrific tear, entering games in high-leverage situations in the seventh or eighth inning to help ease the transition to closer Roberto Osuna in the ninth.

In two appearances in crucial games against the New York Yankees earlier in the week, Cecil worked in the eighth in tight circumstances and wound up striking out five of the seven batters he faced.

The Blue Jays won both games.

That included a virtuoso effort on Monday when Cecil struck out Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann – all on curveballs – to help preserve a 4-1 Toronto win.

Afterward, Cecil categorized his effort as the three biggest outs of his career.

Cecil was injured with a sore left shoulder that cut into his practice in spring training. He said he was not in peak form when the season started, the reason he struggled in the closer's role when it was his to run with.

"Arm strength wasn't where it needed to be, mechanics wasn't where it needed to be," is how he summed it up his early struggles.

Toronto pitching coach Pete Walker said Cecil is feeding on the success and that only makes him more dangerous.

"Certainly from a confidence standpoint it's at an all-time high right now," Walker said. "You can just tell when he steps on the mound. His curveball is biting like it's never bitten before. It's 85-86 miles an hour, straight down and it certainly didn't have that kind of shape to it earlier in the year. It had a little bit more roll to it."

Nobody is questioning Cecil's form these days. He had not allowed an earned run over his past 28 innings and 31 of his past 32 outings have been scoreless heading into Friday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of his last 21 outs, 16 have come via the strikeout.

Although Cecil was an all-star in 2013, during which he came within one out of Dave Stieb's franchise record when he retired 25 straight batters over a stretch of seven appearances, he said this year has been even more gratifying.

"Given the point where we're at in the season and where we stand right now, I would have to say this is the most consistent I've been," he said." I think the run I had in 2013 without giving up a hit was actually a whole lot better than the run I'm on now.

"But given the situation that the team is in, this feels more satisfying."

Not to play down what Cecil has accomplished this season, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that Cecil's overpowering performance is not shocking to him.

"He's been an All-Star before so it shouldn't be a surprise," he said. "I think that this year you're just noticing it more, especially lately because the game's mean more right now and everything is getting magnified."

Most of Cecil's success is pinned to his curveball, which he throws 39 per cent of the time according to data collection by the FanGraphs website.

And when Cecil throws it, opposing batters are mostly missing, hitting just .161 against his curve this year. Of his 64 strikeouts on the year, 47 have occurred via the curve.

What makes Cecil's curve so menacing is that he has the ability to throw it much harder than the average pitcher.

Curveballs are usually thrown at a velocity ranging from around 70 to 80 miles per hour.

According to FanGraphs, Cecil is among the heaviest curveball throwers, with an average velocity of 84 miles per hour, ninth in the majors.

Craig Kimbrel of the San Diego Padres averages 86.8 mph on his curve.

Cecil credits his increased velocity to a tweak to his mechanics earlier in the season, including a higher leg lift that he says gives him added thrust when he makes his pitches.

Earlier in the season, Cecil was given an opportunity to close before Osuna got the job, and it did not go well.

While he said the closer's role is in good hands with Osuna, Cecil said he still has confidence he could once again assume the role if called upon.

"Casey Janssen [former Toronto closer] told me last year, nobody grows up saying they want to be vice-president," Cecil said. "They say they want to be the President of the United States. And everybody wants to be that guy.

"Nothing's changed for me. I'd love a shot at being a closer but I think where we're all at right now things are working good."