PITTSBURGH, SEPT. 10 -- The last time a Double-D gave National League hitters so much trouble, Don Drysdale was whizzing fastballs under their chins or buckling their knees with breaking balls on the outside corner.
Doug Drabek isn't the power pitcher that Drysdale was in the 1960s for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he's also been double trouble while pitching the Pittsburgh Pirates into contention for their first division title in 11 years.
He's got the best breaking pitch this side of Dave Stieb, but don't think Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens are the only pitchers around who can bring Texas heat. A native of Victoria, Texas, and a former college pitcher at Houston, Drabek can pump a 90 mph fastball when he has to.
"He's got four or five pitches he can throw for strikes, and he's smart enough to back off a pitch when he's not getting it over," Pirates pitching coach Ray Miller said.
"People see his record (19-5) and they say, 'He's just having a good year on a good team,' but they haven't seen the work he's put in here for four years.
"They don't see he works twice as hard as anyone else. They don't see in him in here pushing himself the day after a start. He's good because he's made himself good."
He's had winning streaks of six, six and five games.
He's allowed only seven earned runs in his last six starts -- a 1.40 ERA -- and is 11-2 this season and 30-19 in his career following a loss. He finished interdivision play with an 11-0 record against the NL West.
The right-hander is the Pirates' first 19-game winner since Jim Bibby (19-6) in 1980 and can become the third Pirates' 20-game winner in the last 31 seasons, joining Vern Law (20-9 in 1960) and John Candelaria (20-5 in 1977). With at least four more scheduled starts, he might become the first Pirate to win more than 20 games since Bob Friend (22-14) in 1958.
As Pittsburgh's own Mr. Rogers might say, "Can you say Cy Young Award?"
"He's as good as there is in the league right now," Philadelphia Manager Nick Leyva said. "Jim Leyland doesn't know how lucky he is to be able to run a pitcher that good out there every five days."
"He should be right up there," Montreal Manager Buck Rodgers said. "The rest of the Pirates' staff hasn't had that good a year, so you don't know where they'd be without him. He's head and shoulders above the others. He's their stopper. He's 14 games above .500 and that means the rest of their staff can be about .500."
Exactly 10 games over .500 to be precise. The New York Yankees must be wondering where they'd be with Drabek -- they dealt him to Pittsburgh in late 1986 -- because the Pirates don't know where they'd be without him.
"He's been awesome," Barry Bonds said.
Drabek has downplayed all of the postseason awards talk: "I kind of shove all that other stuff off to the side. The only thing I'm thinking about is winning the pennant, and we've got a lot of games yet. You can't let yourself think past one game."
But he finally can afford to start thinking 20 wins, since his next scheduled start is Thursday in New York.
"Now I can worry about 20, because that's my next start," he said. "I didn't worry about No. 15 until I'd won 14. . . . I didn't think about 19 until I won 18. Now I can think about 20."
And, in a twist of irony, 20 was also the Pirates' magic number before tonight's game in Philadelphia.
Miller said Drabek could have won 20 a year ago, when he was 14-12. Coming off a 15-7 season in 1988, Drabek allowed three earned runs or less in all but seven of his 34 starts, but the Pirates scored two runs or less in 11 of his 12 losses.
His ERA -- 3.08 in 1988, 2.80 in 1989 and 2.63 in 1990 -- is a better indication than his record of how well he's pitched.
"He used to fight himself when he made a bad pitch . . . he'd worry about it for two or three innings," Miller said. "He's learned how to deal with that and come right back with a great pitch."
His teammates are making a big pitch for him to win the Cy Young, although New York's Frank Viola and Dwight Gooden and the Dodgers' Ramon Martinez will also get votes.
"He deserves it," Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke said. "He's the man."