Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kyle Drabek Needs Help

On Tuesday night against the Royals, Kyle Drabek had a tough outing. He managed to collect three more walks to an already league leading category and on the other side collected no strikeouts. He had only one pitch the fastball and could not control his location

Drabek's problem with walks has already been discussed and it has not helped his ERA, which is now at 4.98. He now has 48 walks and 43 strikeouts. But now he has an even worse problem. And it’s not all his fault. When you have trouble with control, you need to have someone calling a game that you can handle. If you have trouble with your curve and slider you need to be careful when they are used in the count. If a pitch is called and thrown it must be caught or covered.

My problem is with the three people who should have been taking care to keep their pitcher in control: the catcher, pitching coach and manger. First, JP Arencibia did a great job of hitting his 10 homer and the Jays cinched the lead. Bravo to him for his great season at the plate. But he did not help the hole that was dug by Drabek. He called for pitches that were causing Drabek trouble. When, in two separate innings, Drabek got ahead with two outs he called and allowed pitches that were thrown wild (for a total of 4 on the night). These 4 wild pitches advanced the runners into scoring position and they scored 3 runs. Arencibia should have known what was called and keep the balls in front of him. These balls were scored wild and maybe should have been scored passed balls. Just another point, Arencibia should have taken more time, gone to the mound and spoke with Drabek to calm him down. It was more than obvious that he was upset and getting increasingly out of control. In any event, Arencibia, by his pitch call and lack of fielding should have controlled the situation.

Both John Farrell and Bruce Walton should have done their bit to control the emotions of their rookie pitcher who has had a few poor outings. Remember his previous game against the Indians and the four earned runs in 2/3rd of an inning. He has averaged only 5 innings pitched per start for the season. In this, the next start, neither of them went to the mound to sooth the savage thoughts of the pitcher. Walton spent his time speaking to Molina about the situation but did not take those thoughts to the mound. It was clear what that communication was out the window when Drabek walked past Farrell handing him the ball. Farrell held him back to say a few words. What Farrell said may not be that which he told the press. But whatever it was, it was too little too late. If the Jays had not produced on the offensive side, the game would not have been in the win column.

This Jays team is very young and in many ways talented. It needs to be managed and messaged. Most of the time Farrell does this. Arencibia needs to know how and when to communicate with the pitcher and how to call a better game (Molina is there to help). When there is what looks like an obvious challenge to the pitching staff, little help during the game seems to come from the management. The Jays have had the hitting manager and now they have the pitching manager. Looks like a staff that averages only five innings per outing should be getting some more help. The Jays seem to be relying on the long ball again to cover up the rotation. It certainly needs work.

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