Again, according to someone that loves baseball and is probably smarter than you, the keys to Drabek's success are as follows:
- Continued control over the change-up.
- Improved control on the sinker.
- Some whiffs on the bender.
Drabek's control over the change wasn't astonishing, but he continued to use it as a swing and miss pitch. Opposing batters are swinging and missing 12.5% and Monday against the Rangers, he managed a couple whiffs on fourteen changes. Rarely was Drabek's change in the zone against the Rangers, but that's to be expected against a line-up featuring only one opposite-handed batter as Josh Hamilton was given the night off.
Furthermore, Drabek found himself going to the cutter 18 times against the Rangers; eleven of which resulted in strikes, and four ended in whiffs. As seen by the green triangles, Drabek located the cutter extremely well against both lefties and righties by keeping it down and away. Drabek made his name as a prospect on the back of his cutter, but had drastically decreased its usage to open the season. Drabek's increased reliance on the cut-fastball over the past two games is something worth monitoring.
As for Drabek's sinker, he managed to throw 23 of 36 for strikes, despite being a little wild. He kept most of them off the heart of the plate and worked the edges well, but elevated more of them than I'd like to see.
Finally, it was nice to see Drabek really go to his breaking pitch as a means of inducing whiffs. Drabek threw 12 curveballs and nine of them went for strikes. Furthermore, he managed five whiffs on the pitch. For the game, Drabek induced 18 swing and misses and looked incredibly sharp. Drabek's 1.73 K:BB Ratio certainly isn't stellar, but it's blowing the pants off last year's horrendous 0.93 K:BB rate.
Drabek's certainly out-pitching his peripherals with a shiny 2.40 ERA, but there's plenty of reason to believe in the kid.