Meet The New Kyle Drabek, Same As The Old Kyle Drabek

By Mark Hock

The Toronto Blue Jays played another strong game against the Boston Red Sox, beating them by a score of 7-3. While Casey Janssen made things interesting in the 9th, the Jays were in complete control of this game. They’ve dominated Boston so far this series, although the Red Sox are making a habit of playing much better in the 9th.

One of the key questions heading into this game was how would Kyle Drabek rebound after a poor season. In 2011 Drabek posted a 6.06 ERA, striking out 51 and walking 55. He averaged slightly more than 5 innings per game as a starter, and opposing batters hit a stunning 839 OPS against him. He averaged 18.7 pitches per inning, a major reason why he was unable to go deep into games.

Despite picking up the win yesterday, Drabek didn’t look any different than he did last year. In his 5 1/3 innings, he struck out 4, walked 3 while allowing more fly balls (7) than ground balls (6). While he was able to get out of some tough jams, it’s clear the Red Sox simply weren’t fooled by his stuff. Red Sox hitters had a swinging strike rate of 4.4%, which was much lower than Drabek’s 7.6% from last year. Having a high swinging strike rate is important, as it shows that batters aren’t getting a good look at your stuff and cannot make contact. Drabek’s 7.6% from last year was extremely low, and seeing it drop to 4.4% even for one game is alarming.

It should be noted that the Red Sox lineup is known for their patient approach, so it’s not the most favourable matchup for a right hander with control issues like Drabek. Nonetheless, if he’s going to succeed pitching in the AL East he’s going to have to be able to pitch against patient teams like the Red Sox.

This is only one start for Drabek, and there’s plenty of time for him to show that he’s made some improvements during the offseason. His start against Boston should be a confidence booster, as he only allowed one run and managed to earn the win. But Drabek is going to need to cut back on the walks if he wants to have any chance at having a successful season. With so many talented arms in the Jays farm system, it won’t be long before Drabek gets lost in a numbers game. At 24 Drabek is still young, but this could be a make or break year for the enigmatic right hander.

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