Internal Bullpen Options Available to the Blue Jays
Sep 25, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek (4) throws in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Much like the aforementioned Steve Delabar, right-hander Kyle Drabek also saw his status with the club plummet during last season. After undergoing his second career Tommy John surgery during the 2012 season, many hoped that the one-time top starting pitching prospect would be able to get his career back on-track with a full season in 2014. However, that was not the case he struggled to remain consistent and stand-out as a member of the Triple-A team in Buffalo.
There is still plenty to like about the last remaining piece from the Roy Halladay trade. First of all, he is only 27 and will have had over a full-year of playing time behind him since his latest surgery. The struggles of pitchers coming back from TJ surgery are well-documented, and if you expect Drew Hutchison (who underwent the surgery within a similar timeframe) to improve next season it is not unreasonable to assume that Drabek will as well. He also still features the same lights-out stuff that made him a top prospect in the first place. His fastball seems to have lost a few mph since it was first clocked in the upper 90s, but it has certainly not disappeared entirely and it still has wicked movement capable of blowing past batters. Plus he still has the ability to throw an above-average curveball in the low 80s, making him an appealing weapon out of the pen when he is throwing strikes.
The main problem with Drabek though is that he has never been able to throw strikes consistently. He managed to post a 3.16 ERA over 31.1 innings as a reliever last season, but with his K/9 ratio also trending downwards he will have to greatly improve on his career 5.8 BB/9 ratio if he wants to find success, even in the pen. The 2015 season could be the last kick at the can for Drabek in the Blue Jays organization, but if he is finally able to harness his natural ability he should be able to succeed in the late innings and gain a role with the major league club.