Boston Red Sox new starting pitcher, David Price, has drawn a fair amount of criticism following his first seven starts as the ace of the staff. Playing in Boston can be very tough for a new player, especially one of Price’s magnitude. With such lofty expectations from a fan base that always expects the best, Price has been a major disappointment so far. Price is the first true ace this team has had since former Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester left for the Chicago Cubs. Adjusting to a change of scenery can be tough for a star player and Lester’s first season for the Cubs, a 3.34 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 205 innings, should be the measuring stick Sox fans are using for Price’s first season in Boston. However, Sox fans may not be aware of the start Lester had in a Cubs uniform. Lester’s first seven starts in a Cubs uniform were only a tad bit better than Price’s have been for the Sox.
Through Lester’s first seven starts in a Cubs uniform, he had a 4.10 ERA with 40
strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched. This performance certainly didn’t live up to the 6 year, $155 million contract he signed, and World Series hungry Chicago was also very concerned about their aging new ace. Similar to Lester, Price’s 6.75 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 41.1 innings pitched have not lived up to the 7 year $217 million contract that he signed this offseason. Both pitchers stumbled out of the gate for their new teams and Lester’s turnaround last year should be the expectation Sox fans have for Price. Lester and Price are very similar pitchers as well.
Both Lester and Price feature four pitches, a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup, relying primarily on the fastball and cutter, throwing them over 70% of the time, according to FanGraphs. The main difference between the two is with their off speed stuff, Price relies on his changeup more and Lester puts more trust in the curveball. Both pitchers throw around the same speed at this point in their respective careers, Price’s average fastball velocity is around 92 mph, while Lester’s fastball sits around the 90-93 range. Location of pitches is the key for both of these pitchers in the latter stages of their careers. Price’s inability to locate his pitches have been the reason for his struggles. Luckily for Sox fans, this can easily be fixed.
David Price: Location Issues Are The Reason For His Early Season Struggles
Although he has showed strong command, allowing just 12 walks, the issue has been more of where he’s leaving the ball in the strike zone, in places hitters can destroy a pitcher. For example, in his last start he threw a pitch down and inside to Carlos Beltran, a guy who has killed that pitch during his long career. As a result, Beltran doubled in two runs. Price has the experience to know that this is the real issue, not his velocity.
With the pedigree Price brings, Sox fans should not be concerned but rather have faith in Price turning it around and performing as the ace. The baseball season is long and to critique a pitcher of Price’s caliber just seven starts in is not justifiable. His strikeout rate and the limited walks are elite and when he figures out his location, everything else will be elite as well. This Thursday’s start against the strikeout prone Astros in front of the Fenway crowd will provide him with a great opportunity to show off his still great stuff and silence the early season criticism.