Kyle Drabek is taking plenty of advice from the guys in the bullpen.
The 26-year-old righthander has spent his professional baseball career as a starting pitcher.
In mid-June, the Toronto Blue Jays organization moved Drabek out of the rotation and into the bullpen. As with any change, there’s been a bit of a learning curve.
“I’m still getting used to it but with the guys we have in the pen right now, they’ve been helping me out a lot,” Drabek said. “It’s mostly with how to get ready quicker and really just what goes in to being able to get up quick and sit and then get back going again.”
Drabek began the season in the Buffalo Bisons’ starting rotation. He made 13 starts, going 4-6 with a 4.46 ERA. That was expected for someone who has started 30 games in the major leagues for Toronto over the past four years.
It’s been a learning process since the change.
“Really don’t know my role I guess yet. So, just whenever that phone rings and my name is called I just get going,” Drabek said.
His first relief appearance came on June 18 in Columbus, where he pitched five innings of a suspended game and picked up the win.
Since then Drabek has not pitched more than two innings in seven appearances.
But each time out his earned-run average comes down a bit.
As a reliever, he owns a 2-0 record with a 2.25 ERA.
Drabek has learned that the leash is shorter for pitchers who come out of the bullpen. He can’t take time to warm into a game, looking instead to become more aggressive from his first pitch and aware that one mistake may now mean the end of his day.
“Being able to attack hitters early is big for me because you’re not going to be going five innings,” Drabek said. “If it’s one inning and you give up a run your night could be over. Being able to attack them quicker is what I’ve been trying to do.
“As a starter, in the first inning you can give up a run and then have seven more scoreless and it’s a great game. In the pen, you give up a run your first inning and you’re out. Then you just have to wait until tomorrow.”
In transactions, the Bisons activated outfielder Adron Chambers off the disabled list (left groin strain) and transferred right-handed pitcher Randy Boone to New Hampshire.
The Coca-Cola Field appearance of Denny McLain has been moved to Tuesday.
McLain, the last pitcher to win 30 games in Major League Baseball, will sign autographs from 6 p.m. through the second inning with a break to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Bisons and Indianapolis.
He won back-to-back Cy Young Awards with the Detroit Tigers in 1968 and 1969. McLain was named the American League’s MVP in 1968.
The series against Lehigh Valley will continue today at 1 p.m. today (Radio 1520 AM) with Brad Mills scheduled to start for the Bisons against lefty Jo-Joy Reyes.