Red Sox Nation, it is officially time to start worrying about your new $217 million ace, David Price. Yesterday, in front of a sold out house at Yankee Stadium, Price could not get out of the fifth inning after allowing six runs to one of the worst offensive clubs in all of baseball.
While Price's record does not indicate truly how bad he has been (4-1 in seven starts), his ERA and shockingly low velocity does. After yesterday's start, the Vanderbilt product's ERA rose to 6.75, a tad higher than his career average of 3.19.
When you are a major league pitcher, the difference between 90-92 and 95-96 is wildly different. If you can't locate your pitches, you can get away with it at times if you are pumping the baseball in there with some added velocity. Don't believe me? Just look at Craig Kimbrel. But on the flip side, if you are throwing the baseball 90 MPH AND having trouble locating pitches, you aren't going to be an effective major league pitcher.
While he has not been locating his fastball as well as he has in previous years, there is nothing in his mechanics or a glaring flaw in Price's delivery. So what in God's green earth propels a 30-year-old from pitching 96 one year, to barely being able to hit 91 or 92 the next?
The first thing to cross off the list, apparently, is that Price is battling some type of injury. To be honest, this is the first thing that I thought of after yesterday's outing and I am not really buying what John Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis is throwing us. While everyone has been telling us that Price is healthy, what other explanation is there? Price has been a notoriously slow starter, but usually regains his command and velocity as the weather gets warmer in May. Well, today is May 8 and, while the weather hasn't been great, you can't blame a $217 million former #1 overall pick's struggles on a little rain.
Yesterday, I also noticed that David Price was having an extremely difficult time finishing at-bats. He would get a batter in a 1-2 or 0-2 hole, but he was unable to strike batters out, specifically with his fastball. Price relied heavily on his change-up to get strikes, and we saw that on full display in Price's most crucial at-bat: a two-out, fourth inning, bases loaded matchup with Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius. On an 0-2 count, Price left a changeup middle-in, and Gregorius crushed the pitched down the right field line for three runs. While the pitch itself wasn't bad, the .251 career hitter was sitting on a changeup because he knew Price couldn't get him out with his fastball. If Price had a 96 MPH fastball, even if he doesn't use it, it keeps the hitter on edge and questioning what he is going to throw.
I don't think Price is a person that would take a pile of cash and run. He seems like a straight up guy that truly wants to succeed in Boston. Whether it is a DL stint or a change in his mechanics, Price desperately needs to figure out the velocity and command of his fastball. If he can regain his velocity, everything else will follow.
Hang in there, everyone.