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Friday Nightly - $
Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:01am|
By Keith Hernandez
Adam Sandler once said, 'The price is wrong, [expletive],' to former talk show host Bob Barker. He may have been right, but for Tampa Bay Rays hurler David Price, nothing seems to be wrong after his complete-game shutout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Tuesday.
Price, 26, allowed five hits (all singles) in his second career complete game shutout, with the other coming against the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010. Price is 3-1 in the early going, and aside from his ugly three-inning, three-earned run outing against the Boston Red Sox, he's pitched pretty much the way we expected him to.
The southpaw has 17 K's and 10 walks in 24 innings for an early-season ERA of 2.62. Although his K/9 (6.38) and BB/9 (3.75) aren't anything to write home about when compared to his career marks and his last two seasons, Price appears to be maturing as a pitcher.
ESPN's David Schoenfield notes how extremely well Price mixed up his pitches in his stellar outing Tuesday, and Rays skipper Joe Maddon and opposing manager Mike Scioscia were both thoroughly impressed with the lefty.
'Great command of all his pitches,' Maddon said after the game. 'He pretty much brought out the kitchen sink. Probably one of his best performances as far as using his entire repertoire.'
'I don't know if we've seen a better game against us,' Scioscia said.
Some pretty nice complements if you ask me, even though he was facing a reeling offensive team in the Halos, which included slugger Albert Pujols going 0-for-4 to extend his slump to 0-for-16 and homerless stretch to start the year to 69 at-bats. Schoenfield dishes on Pujols' possible decline, too, in case you're interested.
We all knew Price was a pretty solid fantasy baseball starter coming into the 2012 campaign, going in most leagues as a mid- to low-end No. 1 fantasy ace. His outing Tuesday, though, reminded us that he's still maturing and could morph into something even more special, beginning this year. Remember, he's only 26 years of age.
Schoenfield pointed out that Price threw 29 changeups to keep the Angels hitters off balance. So far this season, it looks as though that's been his focus: keeping batters guessing by mixing in his offspeed pitches more and not relying on his fastball too much. His 50 percent ground-ball rate in the first month is reflecting this.
Per FanGraphs, Price tossed his fastball 70.5 percent of the time in 2011, his slider 9.6 percent of the time, his curveball 9.1 percent and his changeup 10.8 percent. In his four starts this year, his fastball is being shown 67.2 percent, slider 11.8 percent, curveball 6.1 percent and his changeup 14.9 percent.
He started introducing his changeup only two years ago, so it makes sense that he's finally trusting it and throwing it more just now. This will only make him more effective, as evidenced in Tuesday's outing.
Look for more of the same to continue, especially if Price continues to mix his pitches well and get ahead of batters early in the count. The sky is the limit and the price is right in 2012.