Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Kyle Drabek Telling Us?

Kyle Drabek, a large part of the hopes of Toronto Blue Jays' fans, has now made five starts in 2010. His record stands at 2-0. If that was all we looked at, Blue Jay fans should be ecstatic. His ERA is also an impressive 3.30, good for a 121 ERA+. Also party-worthy. Baseball-reference.com is somewhat impressed and gives him 0.6 WAR accumulated so far. Fangraphs.com isn't impressed at all and gives him a WAR of only 0.1. So what does all that tell us? The large part of the answer is that we don't know yet.

The Good:

Drabek has only allowed 7.2 hits per nine innings and has done a reasonable job keeping the ball in the ballpark with a rate of 0.9 homers per nine innings. He has a two to one ground ball to fly ball ratio.

The Not So Good:

Drabek leads the American League in walks with 17. His 5.1 walks per nine innings compared to his 6.3 strikeouts per nine leads to a pretty pedestrian K/BB ratio. Drabek's BABIP of .256 seems unsustainable. So even if his walk rate comes down, his hit rate should go up. He's averaging six innings per start and his pitch counts have been high. That doesn't bode well for long-term durability.

What is surprising is that Drabek has abandoned his slider in favor of a cut fastball. Or perhaps the pitch was mislabeled in the past? But Fangraphs rates the pitch as effective and Drabek's curveball has been effective too. The fastball is not doing well according to Fangraphs and that is a bit of a concern. Drabek's change up is not a plus pitch thus far according to what the Fan is seeing.

All that said, the guy is only 23 years old and just getting his feet wet. If he has been this successful just falling out of the nest and flying for the first time, what can he do when there is more confidence in his flying? We'll just have to wait and see.

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