In an interview with FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi earlier this week, new Blue Jays manager John Farrell didn’t dismiss the possibility that Kyle Drabek could eclipse 200 innings in his rookie season.
“You can look at the (innings) progression he’s already gone through to this point,” Farrell said of Drabek, whose father, Doug, is the former Cy Young Award winner. “What it’ll come down to now is his efficiency in games. When you look at the competitive nature of the person, and you know that the talent and personal side align, this is a very exciting and bright young prospect.
“You’re talking about someone who loves to compete and doesn’t back away from challenges. That’s his wiring and his makeup.”
Drabek, who was the centerpiece in the Roy Halladay trade, made his major league debut last September after compiling a 2.94 ERA over 162 innings with Double-A New Hampshire. He threw an additional 17 innings with the Blue Jays down the stretch, posting a 4.76 ERA and 12/5 K/BB ratio over three starts. Drabek, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, tossed 158 innings in 2009 and 179 innings last season, so 200 innings isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Of course, none of this talk will matter if Drabek struggles to adjust at the big league level. While the 23-year-old right-hander was recently ranked as the organization’s No. 1 prospect by Baseball America, his command has been shaky at times in the minors. He’ll also be pitching in what could be the toughest division in baseball, so there will likely be some bumps in the road.
Farrell has called Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow the only locks for his starting rotation, but Drabek will likely beat out Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond, Marc Rzepczynski and Jo-Jo Reyes for one of the final two spots during spring training.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.