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.