Drake has surrendered nine runs (eight earned) and eight hits this year in nine appearances spread over 13 1/3 innings and a couple of promotions. He’s walked six and struck out 17.
Saving his best for most recently, Drake retired all six Rays he faced in Thursday night’s series opener. He bore scant resemblance to the pitcher who, in back-to-back games in San Diego in late June, allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings and was optioned back to Norfolk.
“He seems a little more comfortable,” Showalter said of Drake, the 43rd-round pick in 2008 out of the Naval Academy. “His fastball command has been better. If Ollie can command the fastball, he can have some success up here, but that’s ...
“He’s got an out pitch, and sometimes the fastball is the out pitch. He throws a forkball, not a split. That’s what’s different about him. There’s a difference between a forkball and a split. He throws a forkball. And the ball to strike forkball, you’ve got to be careful with when you’re ahead in the count. But the strike to ball forkball is the pitch that will allow him to have a lot of success, especially if he can command the fastball. But those are two efficient innings he pitched (Thursday) night. That was good to see.
“That’s something that’s been impressed upon, we’ve talked about being more efficient there and not having those 25-pitch innings. In the American League, you’re not as valuable to a club and that’s why we’ve had so few appearances out of our bullpen, because guys have been able to pitch multiple innings.”