Keeping composure Drabek's key

Keeping composure Drabek's key

TAMPA, Fla. -- Right-hander Kyle Drabek made another strong case for a spot in the Blue Jays' starting rotation with five scoreless innings against the Yankees in Tuesday night's 4-3 Toronto win.

The 24-year-old Drabek is currently in the running for the No. 5 job in the rotation, and his chances greatly improved earlier this week, when Dustin McGowan was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

Drabek now jumps to the forefront of the competition -- which also includes Aaron Laffey -- if McGowan is unable to go at the start of the year, and Drabek drove that point home even further with an impressive outing against New York.

"I hope he comes back as soon as possible," Drabek said of McGowan. "I'm just trying to go out there and make all the starts I have left and just compete.

"When you get on the mound, it's still baseball. You just have to make sure you can go out there and pitch your game."

Drabek executed all three of his pitches against New York and took another positive step forward in his ability to maintain both his mechanics and composure while under pressure. The inability to maintain his cool was one of Drabek's biggest downfalls last season, but another year of experience appears to be turning things around.

The native of Texas has been able to work his way out of trouble this spring and not overthrow with runners on base. That has also allowed his delivery to stay in line and not cause his body to fall off to the first-base side.

Drabek maintained those positive results against New York, and even though he recorded only one three-up, three-down inning, he managed to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard.

"Sometimes I get out of it, but that's when you have to step off and remind yourself to stay back," Drabek said of maintaining a consistent delivery. "Last year, I ended up changing it up a few times, which definitely couldn't have helped. This year, working on it every day, playing long toss and working on it in the 'pen, it seems to help out pretty good.

"Sometimes [my] heart rate gets up, and I kind of want to rush it. I'll start leaning forward, and that's when my arm has to catch up with my body. That's when we're trying to keep me back so everything's in line."

Drabek has a 3.14 ERA in five Grapefruit League games this spring.