Kyle Drabek secured a spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation coming out of the spring training, one-hit the Twins for seven innings in his first start, and had a 3.30 ERA through five outings.
And then everything fell apart for the 23-year-old prospect acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade, as Drabek posted a 7.38 ERA with a .314 opponents’ batting average and more walks (35) than strikeouts (28) in 43 innings spread over his next nine starts.
He failed to make it out of the first inning against the Indians on June 1, allowed five runs to the Royals on June 7, and got knocked around by the Red Sox for three homers and a total of eight runs Sunday. And today the Blue Jays decided they’d seen enough, optioning Drabek back to Triple-A with a 5.70 ERA and 48/52 K/BB ratio in 73 innings.
There’s no doubt that Drabek has impressive raw stuff, as he averaged 93.4 miles per hour with his fastball and flashed a potentially dominant low-90s cutter, but with a league-leading 52 walks and 10 wild pitches in just 73 innings he’s clearly not yet polished enough to thrive against big-league hitters. He’ll likely be back in the second half, perhaps for good.
Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver has been reassigned to the bullpen, manager Mike Shildt announced Sunday. Fellow righty Daniel Poncedeleon will take his spot in the rotation for the time being, though it’s still unclear whether Weaver’s demotion is a permanent one or not.
Still, it’s not the most surprising of moves, especially as the club advances toward a potential playoff berth in October. Weaver, 24, has struggled to find his groove this season after putting up a 6-11 record in 24 starts and a 4.67 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2018. During two of his last three outings in August, he was pulled before the fifth inning, citing mechanical issues with his delivery that may be impacting his fastball location and delivery and having an adverse effect on his results — and those of the team — as well.
Poncedeleon, on the other hand, appears primed to take on more responsibility following an impressive run with the Cardinals this summer. He maintained a sub-3.00 ERA through his first six appearances, issuing four runs, nine walks, and 10 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings. While he hasn’t handled more than one start in the big leagues, his track record in the minors speaks to his ability to get consistent results on the mound: he went 9-3 in 17 starts at Triple-A Memphis with a 2.15 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 across 92 innings. He’s scheduled to cover for Weaver on Tuesday against the Pirates and will presumably continue to pitch out of the rotation for the remaining six weeks of the season.