Feb 23, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek (4) throws as the Blue Jays workout at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Are Kyle Drabek's Starting Days Behind Him?

When Roy Halladay was traded in 2009 to Philadelphia, Toronto was supposed to have received it’s next Ace in Kyle Drabek. Things haven’t gone according to plan for the Blue Jays or Kyle Drabek, who was ranked as high as #14 by BaseballProspectus.com in 2011. Kyle’s stock has taken a serious nose-dive since undergoing his second Tommy John after hearing his elbow ‘pop’ in a June 2012 start.

Drabek started the 2014 season as a member of the Buffalo Bisons starting rotation. After 13 starts Kyle had a 4-6 record and was plagued with command issues. Kyle stuff is undeniably good with a nice mix of velocity and movement; however, has never been able to harness for extended periods of time. On June 13th, Drabek may have pitched his final game as a starter. 

Kyle Drabek’s 2014 Triple-A Stats as a Starter

Split W L ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W
As Starter 4 6 4.46 13 70.2 84 42 35 11 23 51 1.514 6.5 2.22
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2014.

I suggested at the end of May (Toronto Blue Jays On the Farm: Kyle Drabek) that Kyle’s recent performance had made him relevant again and could once again become part of the Blue Jays future plans. Unfortunately, Kyle would go 0-3 in his next 3 starts which eventually culminated in a move to the bullpen (I can admit that I may have been just a little bit off on my prediction). In 2014, Drabek has fallen victim to the long ball  (11HR in 13 starts), he’s given up way too many hits (84 in 70.2IP), and he’s sporting his worse K% (16.6%) and a BB% (7.5%) in years.

To be honest Kyle Drabek has haver been able to find any semblance of success as a Triple-A pitcher, so a move to the bullpen only makes sense at this stage in the 26 year old’s development.

Kyle Drabek’s Career Triple-A Stats

Lev W L ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
AAA 12 12 5.46 41 178.0 224 125 108 25 71 121 1.657 11.3 1.3 3.6 6.1 1.70
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2014.

For a guy with as much talent as Kyle Drabek, it would be a shame to just throw it away without first exhausting every avenue. With anything new there are going to be some growing pains. Amy Moritz (@amymoritz) from the Buffalo News got Drabek’s view on being a relief pitcher (read more here).

“I’m still getting used to it but with the guys we have in the pen right now, they’ve been helping me out a lot,” Drabek said. “It’s mostly with how to get ready quicker and really just what goes in to being able to get up quick and sit and then get back going again…..Really don’t know my role I guess yet. So, just whenever that phone rings and my name is called I just get going”.

So far Kyle is making some very good progress in adapting to his new role. After less than 10 games I am not ready to pass a verdict on Drabek as a reliever, but I do think that this is the best chance to get his arm back to the majors and to keep his arm healthy.

Kyle Drabek’s 2014 Triple-A Stats as a Reliever

Split W L ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W
As Reliever 2 0 2.50 9 18.0 15 7 5 1 5 13 1.111 6.5 2.60
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2014.

Moving Drabek to the bullpen could just be management way of limit a guys innings that isn’t too far removed from his second Tommy John or it is a way to give the coaches a opportunity to make adjustments with Kyle without having to wait 5 days to see the results. Regardless, seeing Kyle Drabek find even a little bit of success is a good new story and one that I hope continues.

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Tags: Buffalo Bisons Kyle Drabek Toronto Blue Jays

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