By R.J. Anderson //
A few things about David Price’s fastball were evident entering Wednesday night’s start versus the Boston Red Sox:
1) It goes fast:
Pitchfx data has his average four-seamer at 94.8 MPH and his two-seamer clocking in at 90.7 MPH.
2) Hard to hit:
A poll of, say, 300 baseball fans right now asking which starting pitcher has the fastball most difficult to hit would probably yield results that showed Stephen Strasburg’s heater near the top. As it turns out, Strasburg gets whiffs 9.2% of the time. Price? 9.1%. Not too shabby.
3) He uses it a lot:
More than 70% of the time, as it turns out.
Combine that information with a Boston lineup missing Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and J.D. Drew (Drew not for health reasons) and nothing about Wednesday night’s game should surprise. Price’s fastball sat around 93-95 all night long, topping out at 96.9 MPH. He threw it constantly. Thirty-nine of his first 40 pitches were heaters, 100 of 111 overall. He pounded the zone with it too; more than 75% of his fastballs were strikes of either swinging, called, or foul variety.
The most amazing aspect of the start was that as Price continued to pump fastballs, everyone sort of caught on. Undoubtedly the Red Sox realized he was doing his best Mariano Rivera impression by tossing almost nothing but fireballs, yet they simply couldn’t hit any of them. Not only did Price strike out 10 Red Sox (while allowing only two earned runs and walking one), he also turned up 19 swinging strikes on those 100 fastballs. That’s an absurd 19% whiff rate. As mentioned before, Price’s seasonal rate is a little less than half that. To say Price’s heater was working in all its glory last night then, is an understatement.
Graphic courtesy of FanGraphs.com
All in all, it was one of the best starts of Price’s season. Which is really saying something, since Price leads the American League in wins (with 12), trails only Cliff Lee in ERA (2.42), and has shown progress in various fielding independent metrics (3.61 FIP). The former number-one pick is bridging the gap between potential and production in only his second full season in the majors.
If you own Price in a keeper league, go ahead and slap the franchise tag on him. If you own him otherwise, sit back and continue to enjoy the maturation of a rising ace.
For more on David Price and other Egyptian-based dinosaur deities, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.