The Door of Opportunity Swings Open for Drabek

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

Opportunity works in mysterious ways in Major League Baseball. Some players like Brett Lawrie seem destined for greatness. Others such as Jose Bautista have to grind it out for years before they get a shot.

Enter Kyle Drabek … who’s somewhere right in the middle of those two examples. With his father Doug being a Cy Young Award winner, you’d think Kyle would come with a sense of entitlement. But last season, I think he learned there are no such things as handouts in the MLB.

Back to the opportunity thing for a second; not that players ever hope for their teammates to go on the disabled list, but it must be somewhat of a morbid exercise to sit around and wait to see who will get called up in that player’s place.


And so the door of opportunity has swung wide open for Kyle Drabek. At the beginning of camp, it seemed like the starting rotation was all but determined. But as what happens during any Spring Training, plans change.

Now that Dustin McGowan is on the shelf for the time being, that vacates the fifth starter’s position … one that Kyle Drabek will be vying to fill. I’d say he not only has a decent shot at cracking the starting rotation, but there’s a good chance he could be there to stay as well.

By all accounts, Drabek has looked very impressive in his starts this spring. The coaching staff believes he has really turned the corner, and Kyle even comes with a personal endorsement from Ricky Romero himself.

Earlier this week, Daniel at C70 at the Bat asked a few of us Blue Jays bloggers some questions about the upcoming season, and one of them was which pitcher will make the most strides in 2012. My choice was Kyle Drabek, simply because he really has nowhere to go but up this season.

When Kyle first received his call to the show in late September 2010, the circumstances were much different. Management was adamant about keeping Drabek in the minors the entire season, then for some reason they did a complete 180 and called him up to start three games down the stretch.

That was Kyle Drabek’s audition so to speak, and he passed the initial sniff test. Then after the departure of Shaun Marcum, the pressure was on Drabek as the club would inevitably have to lean on him a little more in 2011.

So when he was taking his bumps last season in his first true start to his Major League career, his struggles may have been slightly exaggerated. With expectations so high for Drabek, anything less than excellence might have seemed like a disappointment.

Fast forward one year and the circumstances are much different. Last Spring Training, Drabek was a favourite to crack the starting rotation. This time around, expectations are much different as he’ll now be playing the underdog role.

The circumstances might have Drabek in an underdog role now, but I don’t really peg him as that kind of guy. He certainly has a world of potential, and I have to keep reminding myself that he’s just 24 years old.
Judging by all his glowing reviews, Kyle Drabek has a pretty good shot at making the Opening Day roster. The real question is whether he can then perform well enough to stay in the starting rotation the entire season.


Moving forward with the starting rotation, I have much more faith in Kyle Drabek than I do Brett Cecil. Even though Drabek is very much an unproven commodity, I feel like there’s a much more likelihood of something incredible happening when he takes the mound as opposed to Cecil.

With Kyle Drabek, it’s not so much a question of if he will find big league success, it’s when. He took a step backwards last season, but the time is now for Kyle Drabek to really make his mark on this team.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.