Take a Bow, Kyle Drabek

In the run-up to last night’s game against the Rangers, I repeatedly expressed reservations about Kyle Drabek’s chances against the formidable Texas lineup. Even without Josh Hamilton, the Rangers are, one through nine, the best team in baseball.

Kyle Drabek has been a bright spot for the Blue Jays in 2012 in that he has not sucked awfully. He looks better which, considering how spectacularly bad he was in 2011 and how down on him most fans and writers seemed to be, is a small victory. That said, he didn’t seem nearly as “good” as we were repeatedly told.

His ERA and such look good but his strand rate was out of this world. His strikeout numbers uninspiring and his walk totals less than stellar. But he wasn’t a disgrace so that’s not that bad. We all fell all over ourselves effusively praising him for “staying in his lane” or whatever such jargon was put forth by the various brain trusts.

Despite being “fixed” he still had 18 strikeouts against 13 walks. He surrendered four home runs in 24 innings. It was encouraging but let’s just say there was considerable “room for improvement.”

Last night, Kyle Drabek improved. He improved the fuck out of the Texas Rangers potent lineup. He struck out eight batters (a career high, for what that is worth) in six innings, walking only two in allowing two runs through six innings. He coaxed EIGHTEEN swinging strikes out of the mighty Rangers and looked like a damn boss in doing so.

Pitching this well against a team this good should count for two. Kyle Drabek was like a very different guy – even than the new Kyle Drabek who debuted earlier this year. Drabek brought back his cut fastball to great effect.

After using it just 8% of the time this season, the Jays young right-handed threw 18 cutters last night (out of 104 pitches, or just under…eighteen percent), getting four whiffs, a groundout and a flyout among the positive outcomes. It really was a performance worth getting excited about. It is just one start but was a great one.

No worries about regression or strand rates or any of that other stuff we fret about after the game. He looked good, like he belonged on the field against the best in the game. He wasn’t Yu Darvish but it is becoming increasingly apparent very few people can match the Rangers newest toy.

One start is does not a baseline make. There is still plenty of work for Drabek to prove he isn’t a five and dive special, throwing 100 pitches in five turgid innings before disappearing into the clubhouse. The good is starting to outweigh the bad, at the very least. So congrats, Kyle. You pitched like a beast and the world is a marginally better place for it.

Pitch f/x information from Brooks Baseball and Joe Lefkowitz.

Comments (84)

  1. Drabs makes me say:

    “Yu Who?”

    • You didn’t notice the guy who out pitched him?

      • He held the best team in the league to 5 hits with 8 SO and 2 Runs while the “most feared hitter in the game” went 0-4 again. He was definitely not “out pitched” and the anemic offense lost the game when the game got out of hand after Drabek was done for the night. Yes Darvish looked good, but the bats have looked just as bad again far worse, bottom of the rotation pitchers all month….

        • .196 BABIP. More walks than K’s. 3HR in April. Not the worst start ever, and there’s every reason for Joey Bats to get hot again.

        • Some Jays “fans” are never satisfied – they exist only to bad-mouth the team at every opportunity. If Kyle threw a no-hitter last night and Yu a perfect game, there’d still be criticisms. Such is the wont of the Toronto sports fan.

          • no. some jays fans aren’t afraid to objectively look at the team without imbuing the evaluation with delusion and fantasy like you do.

            quality starts used to be 7 innings. don’t know when that changed exactly but i guess you dont worry about that stuff.

            plus kd gave up 2 ER; YD gave up 1 in one more inning of work.

            so tell us again, how is Jonathon wrong when he states that Yu outpitched KD?

            sigh.

      • Ummm. Darvish did it against a limp and anemic Jays lineup +EE where Drabek did it against the best team in baseball minus Hamilton. I don’t think anyone has said that Drabek put in a “qualty start” and I don’t even think anyone said Drabek “outpitched” Darvish. If you factor in lineups to their respective starts, Kyle held his own against Darvish and gave his team a chance to win.

        Sigh

  2. That was an oddly satisfying loss.

  3. I hate to rain on this lovefest, and I was certainly as encouraged as anyone by his strikeout spree in the 4th and 5th innings. But was I the only one alarmed by the bombs the Rangers were routinely hitting to the warning track? Why is no one talking about this? The types of flyballs he was giving up reminded me of the Morrow vs. Baltimore game. I thought he was lucky not to get shelled in the first 3 innings.

    • I was at the game. I don’t think he was really giving up “bombs”
      I recall maybe 2 fly balls that were at all nerve-wracking (not counting the fact that ANYTHING hit towards Thames is by default a bit nerve wracking)

      Also, his curveball was awesome yesterday. Wild at times, but he made some good hitters look foolish with it…. Not quite a Darvish level breaking ball, but close.

      • There were three or four deep flyouts, but I wasn’t worried about any of them leaving the park.

        Against Texas, you are gonna get hit for some flyballs. They have power and those flies are going to go further.

    • The only one that scared me was the Nelson Cruz double. Beltre just kinda flailed at his. Cruz is off to a slow start – that ball will be off the restaurant next time.

    • If fly balls aren’t going out of this park, only in a handful of others would be blown out by the wind.

  4. Drabek is transitioning from a thrower to a pitcher.

    • Cliche alert!!!

      • A Loony into the cliche jar.

      • Drabek will also take it one game at a time and is just trying to help the team win.

        Shit, I just did it again.
        Drat.

        Tough loss but ya gotta get back out there today and give’er 110%.

        Fuck, somebody stop me please.

        • Cease and desist.

          Hope that did the trick…

          • Now you’ve got it too.Damn thing is catching.

            Just like to say I’m happy to be up with the big guys at DJF and hope to contribute.Whatever coach wants me to do,I’ll be ready.

            The guys were great in the minors (GB) but being in the bigs is what every kid dreams about.

      • The same thing was said about Morrow 2 years ago, I hope Drabek doesn’t take that long to figure it out

  5. I was impressed. I also found a greet new way to enjoy the game from the Dome as well. The Rogers Live feed on my phone is perfectly delayed so that I can watch the pitch on my phone, right before the next pitch. That was awesome especially for watching Yu, who was everything he was advertised to be. It sucks to give Rogers another $5/month, but what the hell.

    Drabek, most importantly, looked very comfortable. Even in the sixth inning with men on, he didn’t even need a visit from JP to calm him down. He took control and got out.

  6. The ordinate is MPH but what is the abscissa?

  7. It was definitely Drabek’s best start. He looked like a legitimate top of the rotation type starter last night.

  8. Drabek looked awesome! was very proud of him

  9. Sadly ‘the most feared hitter in the game’ is going 0 for 4 against everyone. They need to pull him out for a few days, take him apart and see what the problem is. He really really needs a few days off.

    • Hey Isabella, your daily bashing of Eddie Encarnacion seems to have gone quiet. Any reason why that is?

      • You’re right and I forgot to mention it. E5 is doing really well. So I am gonna eat my words happily and hope he keeps it up.

        • I’m with isabelle. i hate adam lind and i talk a lot of shit. but i would be at the top of the list happy if he regained his mojo. just cuz we rag a guy doesn’t mean we don’t want him to succeed. after all, Lind is OUR shit pile :)

          • I still have a bit of last year’s irrational love for Lind hiding somewhere. I just want him not to suck. Is that so hard, Adam?

    • they did that before and it seemed to help..and it would not hurt him to do it i don’t think…

  10. Completely off topic, but I’m considering cancelling my cable. If I order the mlb.tv package, will I get the Jay games or are they blacked out? Anyone know?

    • If you’re with Rogers, you can watch them via Rogers on Demand online. Otherwise BLACKED THE FUCK OUT.

      • Finally being a Rogers wireless customer pays off. I actually like watching the game online better than TV

      • Would that not be a catch 22, they are not blacked out if you have Rogers cable, but then you need Rogers cable (this person wanted to cancel cable), and if you have Rogers cable then you do not need mlb.tv.

        The alternative is finding an old relative..lets say Grandpa, who has rogers cable but has no idea how to operate a computer, set up a Rogers online account for him and “borrow” the game that way.

        Lets just say I have both mlb.tv and an older relative..hehe

    • Blue Jay games are blacked out to IP addresses in Canada.
      There is a work-around though… if you know where to look on the net.
      I’ve never been willing to try, but when I cut my cable I was able to still get Sportsnet East through the antenna built into my TV.
      I also bought MLB.TV radio feed so I could listen to the games on my PC at work & there is no blackout. It’s great because I don’t have to listen to your hair yapping about something that doesn’t matter.

    • You’re blacked out from all Jays games if you are in Canada. There are ways around it though. unblock-us.com for example. I use them and it’s totally worth it as you even get all of the nationally televised games (ESPN and Fox) that are blacked out for North America.

    • I use PrivateTunnel.com for my VPN, works great. and you pay for how much you use. 100GB of data usage is only $20, that will probably last you all year too. Also works for things like Netflix/Hulu any other american webservice that you can’t use (or is not as good) in Canada. http://bit.ly/JFxN8t

    • You could of course mess around with proxies to catch the Jays. Pretty cheap subscriptions available…try witopia?

  11. It’s a step in the right direction but Drabek still struggles significantly against LH hitters. This was a lineup loaded with RH bats so it was one that he could take advantage of.

    I’d like to see how he does against a lineup that actually has more than 1 strong LH bat before I get too excited. Still, it’s a good offence and an impressive outing which is a positive sign.

  12. All around the starting pitching has been fairly good.. hella lot better than the bats and the bullpen…and its nice to see Drabek beginning to fit in with this Jays pitching staff.

  13. Finally someone steps up and points out that everyone( the announcers, the media, and Gregg F’n Zaun) has been washing Kyle Drabek’s balls prior to this start. He had been better than last year, but definitely not good.

    I am happy that he finally put in a good outing last night, even though the jays didn’t win. I’m sure Zaun will attribute this to “swagger” or “trying to outcompetet Yu Darvish” or some other asinine shit. Great post Drew

  14. Drabek was most impressive in his use of the curveball. He was overmatching the Rangers with it. We all heard of this devastating curve he reportedly possessed yet had thrown it with such infrequency it seemed to be a rumor. Last night we saw it. He really looked like AJ Burnett on his good games.

  15. The Strikes to Balls ratio is troubling. If he can improve, I think we’d all be a lot happier.

  16. Loved the post, Drew. I was hoping you guys would say something about it because Drabek kicked some ass out there. If he keeps pitching like that and continues to improve, he’ll be doubly impressive if and when the bats come around.

  17. Sitting behind home plate in 500 gives you a real good view of a pitcher’s follow through/landing spot. Drabek made a point to mark his landing spot on the mound when he got out there before the 1st inning, and he was fairly consistent hitting that spot throughout the game in an effort to not cross over his body.

    Morrow only 16 swings n misses in his 6 shutout innings, so that should tell you how good Drabek’s stuff was last night. An extremely encouraging start that might help remind everyone why they didn’t want to give up Snider/Drabek for Upton or Greinke last offseason.

  18. I hate to go all negative after such an awsome performance by Drabek lastnight, but what the fuck was Rogers/AA thinking in not taking darvish off Texas’ hands?? I mean, my god… I dont buy that bs arguement about only facing japanese hitters till now, the guy had control and some of the nastiest movement on his pitches on earth. period. starting pitching hasnt been our weakness yet this year but if you have Darvish it makes one of our young prospects tradable for a legit 3/4 bat.

    • Roger’s high-ups, Beeston and AA took the money they saved on Darvish and decided to give themselves salary bonuses instead

      • I really don’t think that’s the case unless you can prove it. The honest answer is that either Roger’s didn’t think it was worth the money, or AA didn’t think he would be worth the money. Sadly through his first 4-5 starts, he really is show that he’s the real deal and we missed out.

        However, it’s very fucking clear to see, that throughout the first month of the season, starting pitching is CLEARLY not our problem. Our problem is that we can’t hit.

        • you are correct in saying SO FAR starting pitching hasnt been a problem at all – but I’d still have to say its likely starting pitching will struggling through the summer, especially Hutch if he’s still up with the Jays. but the point is it makes moving 1 or 2 of our young pitching prospects much easier to swallow if we’ve got Darvish and Romero at the top of our rotation for the next 5 years.. i mean my god would we have been setup nicely.

    • Obviously AA can only bid what Rogers allows him to bid. Given his comments that for someone like Darvish you had to expect the winning bid to be at least 50M, tells me that if the Jays bid was in fact 20 or 30 like we’re hearing, then AA simply wasn’t allowed to bid what he knew it would take.

  19. Very good breakdown, Drew.

  20. was everyone really that impressed with darvish?? i mean, he looked good, but its still really hard to tell how much of that was just a team facing a guy that they had never faced before (with most of the lineup struggling of late to boot). i was at the game, and what was most impressive about him was the slider and change, which generated some awful swings, and the fact that he could throw anywhere from 70-94mph. his command was just ok, and i wonder if in japan a) his stuff was good enough that he could pitch consistently in the zone without fearing hard contact and b) the hitters are less patient. in the mlb with more dangerous hitters, he has pitch more to the edges, and this combined with more patient hitters is leading to walks. it will be very interesting to see how he does a second time through the league, and personally i think he settles into being a 2-3 type starter.

    as for kyle, he was almost equal to darvish against a much stronger lineup. hopefully he can keep generating whiffs as he did this game, but it was very encouraging overall.

    • I concur.

    • I love when people say “I was at the game” and than continue to talk about the pitching like it is not better viewed on tv? Lol. I go to a lot of games, but enjoy them on tv more because you can get a MUCH better view of the pitches. I’ve sat behind homeplate many times, and it’s still not as good as on tv.

    • Im not sure what you expected to see from a human pitcher. The guy has great movement on all his pitches and can locate well enough to keep hitters honest. It will take multiple at bats for hitters to get used to this guy because he has so many variations of his basic pitches. I’ve not seen too many pitchers that impressive in recent memory. The only hits the jays got off him were his occassional hangers and thames jumped on a fastball. but then again, thames swung at a pitch next at bat about one inch off the ground.

    • @ Kevin

      Ya, Darvish was impressive.
      Basics of good pitching are movement and velocity change.
      He was excellent at both.
      You could get into a massive amount of detail beyond that but the idea is to fuck up the batter and he has that ability.

      • look, he gave an acelike performance, no question. I am just aware that there is the possibility of regression once teams start seeing him a second time and his strand rate and HR rates start normalizing.

        again, i think he eventually settles into a no. 2-3 role. by no means is he a shitballer like matsuzaka, I’m just cautious of believing the hype that would have you believe that he is maddux with better stuff or some other ridiculous claim. there is plenty of reason to think he may regress.

    • Kevin, you dont sound like an ignoramus but you’re seriously lying to yourself if you dont recognize that Darvish’s movement on _ALL_ of his pitches is among the best in the world right now, and likely the best many of us have ever seen in our life. His curveball (which you somehow failed to mention as one of his PLUS PLUS pitches) it is one of the only pitches i can remember seeing in the last 5 years that I consider completely unhittable when it’s on

      • in that case, why dont we just induct him into the hall of fame already?

        so apparently he has halladay’s 2 seamer, rivera’s cutter, santos’ slider, santana’s change and burnett’s curve.

        he will be good, as i indicated by stating that i thought he would settle in to a no. 2ish role, but regression is very possible. stay tuned. sorry to be snarky, but i dislike exaggeration.

  21. Drabek’s performance vs Texas is just another example of why Wins are such a useless measure of a pitcher’s talent/ability. A pitching line like that will generally win far more games than it loses, yet he took the “L” due to matters beyond his control.

    • well, that’s a bit liberal…he pitched well (esp. for him), but he did give up 2 runs (earned), and it perhaps could have been more (he worked out of at least a couple bona fide jams – kudos to him), and he ‘only’ went 6 innings (leaving it to an as-late questionable bullpen to keep it close).

      • What percentage of starts meeting those criteria (2er in 6 innings) have resulted in wins compared to losses? I’d be my money on the majority of similar starts resulting in wins (or even no-decisions given there’d be 3 innings left to play that he has no control over).

  22. Is it jsut me or was anyone else amazed at JPA’s throw to get Kinsler out.
    JPA threw Kinsler out at 2nd, from his knees and the ball arrived so early KJ had time to get a stick of gum from his pocket. I think that’s the explanation why KJ dropped the ball. Maybe if you slow down the replay you can see him send a text or something while he waited for Kinsler to arrive. What a freakin good throw.

    I also like that Drabek kept his cool after the error and didnt loose focus.

  23. Drabek’s game would have looked even better had the correct call been made on the Drabek Curve to Kinsler. Ended up a walk when it should have been a called strike three. Can’t complain much though as the ump did a terrific job all night.

  24. Holy crap, you guys know your stuff. Assuming I cancel cable and keep Rogers internet, anyone know of a way I can watch ROD on my TV? Could it be done through a PS3?

  25. No comment on Kyle’s best pitch of the night yet? The one he threw behing Kinslers back after E400footers got HBP earlier.

  26. Kinda helped that Texas was without Hamilton and got into Toronto at 5am.

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