Dreaming of Drabek (or anyone else who can help Jays)


Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It’s painfully obvious that poor starting pitching has been the biggest problem for the Toronto Blue Jays this year.

Esmil Rogers couldn’t buck the trend of dreadful Blue Jays starts last night after he allowed ten hits and seven runs (five earned) over five innings of work against the Los Angeles Angels.

With playoff hopes all but officially extinguished for 2013, over the next 52 games the Toronto Blue Jays will be looking for answers when it comes to next year’s starting pitching rotation.

One name garnering interest among Jays fans is Kyle Drabek. Drabek, 25, was drafted in the first round (18th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 and was the key piece acquired by the Blue Jays in the infamous Roy Halladay trade, which also netted the Jays Travis d’Arnaud.

In 13 starts for the Jays in 2012, Drabek was 4-7 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.598 WHIP. He pitched 71.1 innings, struck out 47 batters and walked another 47.

There’s been some great discussion in the comments section here lately at Jays Journal. I have to give credit to one of our savvy readers “brad” who reminded me although Drabek’s numbers weren’t pretty, he actually was actually fairly effective last year.

Drabek only allowed more than three runs a total of three times in his thirteen starts. Not even the Blue Jays’ best pitcher Mark Buehrle has matched that stretch in 2013. Drabek was rocked on the road by Texas for nine runs on May 27, which helps explain in part why his final ERA wasn’t better. He also allowed five runs to the Los Angeles Angels May 5 and four runs in what was his final start of the 2012 season on June 13.

By June 18th it was announced that Drabek would have season-ending Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. Nearly 14 months later with the Jays starting pitching in disarray, it appears Drabek could be headed back to the big-league club.

Drabek was recently promoted to Double-A New Hampshire and made his first start August 2. He appeared to pitch well if you look at his stat line. Drabek finished the night after four innings on a limited pitch count and allowed only one hit, one walk, one earned run and struck out three. This was a nice follow-up performance for Drabek after he pitched 4.2 innings perfect innings with six strikeouts for Advanced Single-A Dunedin on July 27.

With the current state of the Toronto Blue Jays rotation, it appears the most interesting roster competition is between Drabek and fellow Tommy John alumni Drew Hutchison. Hutchison has joined Drabek in Double-A and he too appears on the path to eventually rejoining the Toronto Blue Jays. They are both considered candidates to be added by the Jays when rosters expand on September 1.

Control issued have plagued Drabek throughout his career. He threw 50 pitches on Friday night with 30 being for strikes. He had seven ground outs and only one fly out to go along with his three K’s. I did not actually see him pitch and my favourite Twitter source for this kind of stuff Clint (@StivBators) looks like he’s in Vegas this weekend taking what I’m sure is a much-needed baseball vacation. But from what I could find on Clint’s Twitter page it appears he isn’t exactly sold on Drabek.

It’s very difficult to extrapolate if minor league results will project major league success especially when a player has already pitched at the MLB level. The control issues may still be there but after a long and tiring road to recovery it appears as though Drabek is starting to find himself again.

John Gibbons has stated that neither Drabek or Hutchison would be called up until at least September. J.A. Happ has been tentatively scheduled to take Todd Redmond‘s spot in the rotation on Wednesday versus the Seattle Mariners.