Walk-free outing important way for Drabek to debut

Walk-free outing important way for Drabek to debut

MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Drabek has something positive to build from after a pair of scoreless innings vs. the Brewers on Tuesday night.

The Blue Jays pitcher allowed one hit and struck out three in his first outing of the season at the big league level. It was a small step, but still an important one for a hurler who has struggled through parts of four years in the Majors.

The success Drabek experienced in the Minors never really translated to the next level, and that was one reason behind his recent move to the bullpen. He's now fully adjusted, and his promotion to Toronto meant he could finally move past those previous struggles.

"I think being in the bullpen in Buffalo, for as long as I was, helped out a bunch for being able to stay calm when the phone rings and things like that," Drabek said. "Just getting used to it helped a bunch."

The biggest difference for Drabek in a reliever's role has been his improved command. He walked 109 batters over 171 1/3 innings as a starter with the Blue Jays, but the walk rate has drastically decreased out of the bullpen, issuing just five free passes over 26 innings of relief at Triple-A.

During his first outing vs. Milwaukee, Drabek continued that success and didn't walk a batter. If he's going to stick at this level, those are the type of results he will need on a regular basis.

"Everything's pretty much the same. I think the command has gotten a little bit better," Drabek said. "Either bouncing [the curveball] or being able to throw it for a strike."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.