If you are reading the papers this morning or watching the sports highlights, you have likely seen someone praising David Price for picking up his league-leading ninth win and lowering his league-leading ERA down to 2.23. That said, anyone calling David Price’s start last night a good start is out of their mind. I would argue that it was his second worst start of the season with the worst one coming in Chicago in April. Last night was the third time that Price has faced the Blue Jays on this young season and is now 3-0 against the Jays with a 0.39 ERA in 23 innings and has limited that potent offense to just a .215 batting average and zero home runs. In the first start, he threw a complete game shutout and allowed just four hits to the Jays while striking out nine and walking one. In his start last week in Toronto, he went eight innings allowing just nine baserunners and striking out three and gave up just two unearned runs. Last night, he made it only six innings and permitted nine baserunners and struck out just four. He threw 104 pitches last night but just 62 of them for strikes compared to the 76 and 75 strikes he threw in the other two starts against the Jays. The table below shows the pitch types that Price has utilized in each of the three starts as well as the amount of swinging strikes from each contest:
|Start||4 FB||2 FB||CRV||SL||CH||SwStr|
His fastball usage jumped from 70 to 76 and all the way up to 90 in his start last night. Additionally, his swing and miss count has dropped 67% from the first start to the third start. Last night, he was 8 for 14 in throwing strikes with his secondary pitches but for some reason, went with a very heavy dose of fastballs last night and he threw just 60% of them for strikes. Compare that to the 68% strikeout rate he got with that pitch just last week against Toronto as well as the first start of the season. It was quite an unusual change of pace given that the Blue Jays are one of the better teams in baseball in hitting the fastball according to FanGraphs.
The end result was a win, but Price was hardly efficient as he channeled the ghost of Scott Kazmir in trying to blow high heat by everyone as the game went on. Unlike Kazmir in his final two seasons, Price got away with it because 95-97 mph is still tough to deal with as a hitter if it has good movement while Kazmir hasn’t been able to throw that since 2007. Price’s pitches had movement last night but he did not seem to know where they were going most of the night. Price has had some recent struggles with some of his secondary pitches in starts at times but last night was concerning because he seems to abandon all use of them for long stretches of times while he tried to blow fastballs by batters. He was lucky to get away with it last night against the Jays but I don’t believe the Yankees and Red Sox will be so forgiving as they are the two best teams in hitting the fastball in baseball.
I am hoping it was a deliberate plan of attack last night because Price looked like a thrower last night after making so much progress as a pitcher. Here are Price’s own thoughts on his effort last night: