Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kan Kyle Keep his Kool?

I wouldn't attribute Dustin McGowan's recent bout of plantar fasciitis to divine intervention.

In fact, quite the contrary -- I'd be far more disposed to a theistic inclination if he stayed healthy for, say, two consecutive months of baseball.

However, there's something almost supernatural in the timing of McGowan's most recent affliction, as it comes at a time when Kyle Drabek looks more primed than ever to claim ownership of a big-league rotation spot.

And considering John Farrell's near-palpable skepticism that McGowan will be ready to go come Opening Day, it is practically a fait accompli that Drabek will get the opportunity for an extended audition with the big-league club. Should McGowan's health problems persist -- and at this point, there's no precedent that suggests they won't -- it's conceivable that Drabek finds himself flirting with the notion of a permanent gig, provided his performance warrants one.

Of course, Spring numbers must be taken with a grain of salt, but Drabek's performance, at the very least, evokes cautious optimism.

Over his last three Grapefruit League appearances, the 24-year-old has allowed just two earned runs in 11.1 innings. In his most recent outing, he held the Yankees scoreless over five innings while striking out five and walking just two.

But more encouraging than numbers is the fact that Farrell has extolled Drabek's " very good emotional control" this Spring. Composure, on even a semi-consistent basis, has thus far eluded Drabek throughout his brief big-league career -- one characterized more by pedigree than performance, and of course, a propensity for emotional outbursts on the mound.

So as Drabek begins to move beyond the incipient stages of his development, it's very encouraging to see -- or at least have Farrell recognize -- emotional maturation. Generally, tenuous emotional composure is not conducive to success on the mound, especially in the AL East.

But it's only appropriate that Drabek get a chance to substantiate the hype this year -- everybody else on the team does.

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