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Entries in David Price (12)

Monday
Aug292011

Price's Fastball Priceless

David Price punched out a career-high 14 batters against the Blue Jays on Sunday, and the left-hander's mid-to-upper-90s heat was the main reason. Seventy-seven of Price's 111 pitches were fastballs, with ten of his Ks coming by way of the fastball. Here's what Rays catcher John Jaso and Price said after the 12-0 win over Toronto:

Jaso and Price felt strong gusts pushing them as they walked in from the bullpen beforehand, but didn't know how helpful the wind would be until the game began, and Price's two-seamer started drifting.

"It looks like a strike right out of his hand and then it's just fading off the plate," Jaso explained. "It was moving about three feet. Once they start to swing on his fastball, they can't hold it back." 

"I've never had that much movement before so it was pretty cool," Price said. "The wind kept blowing and it was making my eyes watery all game. I knew it was blowing pretty good and I just kept throwing it."

Price's fastball yesterday tailed away from right-handed hitters (in to lefties) about ten inches more than a pitch thrown without spin. That's nothing new for him, though: Price's fastball has averaged more than 10 inches of tailing action this season, giving him the second-most horizontal movement with the pitch of any left-handed starter (Derek Holland's fastball tails 11 inches).

Combine that movement with the best velocity of any lefty starter (Price averages 94.7 mph with his fastball, topping out at slightly under 99 mph), and you have the recipe for one of the most dominant pitches in baseball. Hitters have missed 21.4 percent fastballs swung at against Price, the fourth-highest rate among starters (Brandon Beachy, Brandon Morrow and Gio Gonzalez rank 1-3).

Price pitches both lefties and righties away with his fastball:

 Frequency of Price's fastball location vs. left-handers

Frequency of Price's fastball location vs. right-handers

Price has shredded lefty batters this year, throwing his fastball to them about 80 percent of the time and holding them to a .149 average, a .216 on-base percentage and a .261 slugging percentage (.259/.339/.386 average for lefty fastballs vs. lefty hitters). Basically, every lefty batter morphs into Drew Butera. Right-handers, who have gotten a fastball two-thirds of the time, have been able to rap some extra-base hits against Price (.243/304/.407), but that's still much better than the .276/.354/.436 average for lefty fastballs against righties.

Most pitchers mix in more breaking and off-speed stuff when they get two strikes on a hitter, but not Price. He's throwing his fastball 71 percent of the time with the hitter's back against the wall, the highest percentage among starters. That helps explain why 125 of his 184 strikeouts (68 percent) have been on fastballs.

David Price also has a pair of breaking balls and a changeup in his arsenal, but it all starts with his darting, blink-and-you'll-miss-it fastball. That's the kind of fastball that would make Mama proud.

Friday
Aug122011

David Price's Diminished Hook

David Price takes the mound tonight for the Rays in Yankee Stadium, bringing with him a 9-10 record with a 3.89 ERA.  One of the problems he's faced this year has been the lack of bite on his curveball.  He's yielded 17 hits off his curve including 5 doubles, one triple, and 2 HRs.

David Price Curveball
PAVGSLGBABIPContact%HR/FB
2010 Season520.262.359.32980.5%4.2%
2011 Season271.298.526.32681.6%20.0%

While a small sample size caveat applies with the above numbers, PitchFX data indicates he may not be getting quite the same break on his hook as he did last season:

David Price Curveball Movement
BrkXBrkZ
2010 Season4.4-6.5
2011 Season3.7-4.7

The most glaring change has been the reduction in downward movement on Price's curve. In 2010, the lefty was getting 6.5 inches of downward break resulting from the spin on the pitch (BrkZ); this season, he's getting nearly 2 inches less of movement on it. In addition, Price has also seen a drop in left to right movement on his curve.

Right-handed hitters have done most of the damage against his curveball this season, going 14 for 37 with a .591 slugging percentage. With 6 RHB in the New York Yankees' lineup tonight, it will be interesting to see just how much Price utilizes that curveball.

Wednesday
Jul202011

The Price is Almost Right

David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays has improved both his walk and strikeout rates in 2011 posting the best K/9 IP and BB/9 IP marks of his career.  The result however, is an ERA one run higher than last season.  While David keeps men off base very well, with men on base, batters hit him better making the most of their limited opportunities.

The spot to hit Price the best is near the catcher's glove hand:

David Price, in play average, 2011.David, however, avoids that area of the plate:

David Price, pitch frequency, 2011.Note that Price works the outside part of the strike zone near the catcher's hand.  He experience great success getting both swinging and called strikes there:

David Price, strike rate, 2011.So working inside to left-handers, outside to right-handers, works well for Price, while putting the ball on the inside part of the plate (from a right-handed batter's perspective) works poorly.  So with no one on:

David Price, pitch frequency, bases empty, 2011.This pattern produces a .213/.249/.368 slash line by his opposing batters.  With men on base, however, Price abandons this winning pattern:

David Price, pitch frequency, runners on, 2011.He often puts the ball right where batter like to hit it against him.  The above pattern results in a .276/.338/.414 slash line.  Those hits come at a bad time, and help drive runners home.

I wonder if this pattern is part of a desire to drive down his walks.  Walks with men on base are frustrating for a pitcher.  By throwing the ball over the plate more with men on base, he avoids the walks, but he's also providing good pitches to hit.  It's not clear the trade-off is working this season.

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