Considering how the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays have been all but completely decimated by injuries (and they weren’t great to begin with), it only makes sense that the remainder of the season is spent looking forward to seeing just how this mess can be cleaned up by the next one rolls around.
Particularly, much attention will be placed on the starting rotation, which was supposed to be rebuilt but has ended up in shambles.
In September, the team may be getting a look at some familiar faces who will try to put it back together … after recently being put back together themselves. One of these is Kyle Drabek, also known as “the guy the Blue Jays got back from the Doc trade”, who is trying to make a return to stick in the bigs coming off his second Tommy John surgery.
And here we were, feeling bad about first-time TJ survivors Drew Hutchison and reliever Luis Perez.
Not only has Drabek survived his second encounter with potentially career-derailing surgery, though — he might have come back a different pitcher altogether.
Given that he’s had plenty of downtime over the last year or so, it’s perhaps no surprise that the right-hander would try to make adjustments in his rehab to fix whatever that ailed him before, and for Drabek, it was his unwavering generosity on the mound in handing out free passes. In fact, all you’d have to do is look at his 5.93 K/9 to 5.77 BB/9 over 167 career innings for the story; and no, you’re not misreading those numbers.
So even though most minor league numbers essentially mean nothing when it comes to circumstances like the 25-year-old’s road back, you could imagine why a 1.3 BB/9 would catch a few eyes.
No, you’re not misreading that either: that’s Drabek’s walk rate though 35.2 total inning of rehab across three levels, with his latest stop being triple-A Buffalo before the Blue Jays bring him up in September. Forget the 2.78/0.72 ERA/WHIP he’s put up over those innings (1.3 HR/9 rate suggests that won’t be the case when he comes up) — the elbow surgery has apparently also cured his walkitis as an unintended side effect.
It should go without saying that those SSS walk rates is the lowest he’s posted in either the minors or the majors, and might be the most significant sign of his overall health (both physically and mentally … the latter may even be more important, if you happen to recall his meltdowns for the Blue Jays).
Having been rehabbing since late June, Drabek is now up to four-inning outings, and has allowed just one walk to four strikeouts in seven triple-A innings. Though he might be helping the Bisons chase a playoff spot right now, I can’t imagine he isn’t looking at the blown-up Blue Jays rotation with those potentially open spots at the back-end, and thinking about how he might fit in.
If he can continue to show the kind of dramatically-improved control through the rest of his rehab process, I’d imagine the team would have to be thinking the same thing.