David Price took the mound Wednesday night in Boston to no prior controversy, a first for the season. This start won’t cause much more.
After a disaster of a start in New York, David Price had a chance to redeem himself against an abysmal Phillies lineup, chock full of batters hitting below .280 and less than 10 home runs. Of these, there were a limited number of power threats, even against the lefty pitcher. This was expected to be the game Price reasserted his dominance, and it’s fair to say the end result was not quite that.
Just as before, Price kicked off the game with a quick first inning followed by a troublesome second, where he used 36 of his pitches to escape. In this inning, the young German blue chip Aaron Altherr tied the game with a blast off a waist-high 89MPH cutter. This pitch was generally effective for Price though, as it accounted for a number of Price’s six K’s on the night.
Price’s start was not as shaky from that point forward, just one run in the sixth inning after four shutout innings.
Price pitched okay the whole game, but was never at any point dominant. He did strike out six Phillies, but these were negated by the four total BBs and the many balls Price threw. He was more able to get ahead in counts later in the game, but that’s also the expectation against a team like the Phillies.
The line for the night: six innings, four hits, three runs all earned, four walks, and six strikeouts. This is a C or C+ start, and the expectation was about a B or B+ against the Phillies.
It’s not hard to see that command is the secret recipe for Price to be his most effective self, even if everything else still isn’t there yet.
Case in point: Price only allowed one walk all game in his seven inning, one-run win over Baltimore.
At the end of the day, given all the crazy stuff going on with Price, including the birth of his son Xavier, and the rebirth of the battle between Price and the Boston media, it’s not all that bad. The team even rallied back to win, so Price will benefit from the shift in attention.
He did keep his hits down, and even caused eight swing-and-misses with his fastball.
The home run in the second inning was his big hiccup, but the command has to be better next time. Four walks in a start is what kicks guys out of the majors. If you need a reminder as to why Henry Owens isn’t pitching for the Red Sox, he gave up eight walks that night in four and a third innings in Pawtucket.
The bottom line: control and the power pitching Price is still capable of is the key for him to return to dominance, even if his mentals are nowhere near reaching that right now.
Needless to say, Price’s top priority should be on keeping walks down, even if his stuff still isn’t yet at the level where he can jump ahead in counts.
Unfortunately though, Price will need to be dominant to survive his start this Sunday in Houston.