Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Drabek down, Stewart up
Is it okay if I officially have doubts about Kyle Drabek now?
I haven't had much to say about Drabek's start to the season. Sure, he's been God-awful. But who cares? This is a growth year so let him grow, I thought. Can't find the strikezone? It's the same size in Vegas. Dominating quad-A bats? Couldn't it instill as much doubt as struggling at the big league level? As far as this move goes, I don't have too much of an opinion either way. Let him stay up and struggle wouldn't bother me just as sending him down does little to aggravate me.
Let me rewind for a second. I used the word "dominating" in reference to Kyle Drabek which isn't really fair. A name used — with more and more regularity — as a comp for Drabek is Clay Buchholz. And that terrifies me.
The Big Sell Job after the Halladay was with Drabek as a near top of the rotation guy. Maybe not a Number One Starter but an elite arm. Does that describe Buchholz? He doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence in me, aside from his ability to woo D List celebrities.
The more I think about it, the more I think the comparison flatters Drabek. Buchholz posted reasonable huge minor league numbers, never striking out fewer than 10 per nine innings on his ascent to the big leagues.
Consider Buchholz's numbers in his first full season with the Red Sox (as a 24 year old.) 8.53 K/9, 4.86 BB/9 1.30 HR/9, 47.7% GB, 14.7% HR/FB. 6.75 ERA, 4.82 FIP facing 357 batters.
Kyle Drabek as a 24 year old: 5.94 K/P, 6.44 BB/9, 1.11 HR/9, 44.8% GB, 12.3% HR/FB, 5.70 ERA, 5.44 FIP facing 335 batters.
Put another way...awful.
Buchholz went down for two months, came back, then started the following year in AAA. When he finally made it back to the big leagues, he dropped two strikeouts per nine from his repertoire but also shaved a walk. His best season was, not coincidentally, the year his HR/FB sat uncharacteristically low for most of the season.
Drabek doesn't really have the strikeouts to spare at this point. Not in the big leagues (when he nibbles and pouts) but not on his minor league resume either.
I can't pretend to know what kind of pitcher Kyle Drabek might be when he "figures it out" but as far as comps go, I'm a little worried. The areas of the Fangraphs leaderboard that Clay Buchholz hangs don't exactly teem with front of the rotation studs.
What kind of future can Drabek provide? I'm a little lost, to be honest. Feel free to let fly with your most optimistic and/or bitterly pessimistic guesses for the future. I'm all ears.
Labels: Kyle Drabek