Toronto Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: David Price

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Saturday, May 12, Marco Estrada will look to build off of his last great start for the Blue Jays. The Red Sox’s starter, David Price, will make this start despite uncertainty with the effects of the carpal tunnel syndrome he has recently experienced.

David Price was a hero in Toronto during the 2015 playoff run. However, since shipping off to Boston, Price has been more enemy than hero to the storied franchise.

Somewhat hilariously, the latest point of contention with the former Cy Young winner and the Red Sox is their insistence that he stop playing so much of the video game Fortnite, something they believe led to his injury. If anything exemplifies the curiously contentious relationship between the southpaw and Beantown, it’s this.

Price has not been the same since leaving Toronto. Some Blue Jays fans may argue that this decline started in the 2015 playoffs, but that’s an argument for the past. Since joining Boston in the offseason after the 2015 season, Price has yet to post an ERA below his career average 3.26. This year has been no different; Price has struggled to a 2-4 record with a 5.11 ERA, 1.405 WHIP, and 89 ERA+ across seven starts and 37.0 innings pitched.

The Blue Jays will face a collection of pitches from their former teammate. Price features a sinker, cutter, change up, fastball, and curveball.

The sinker is the primary pitch for Price, used 37.5% of the time. Despite using the sinker the most, Price has never been much of a groundball pitcher. Currently his groundball percentage is at a rate of 42.7%, just below his career average 43.9%. Notably, in his Cy Young year in 2012, Price had a good groundball rate of 53.1%.

The big lefty uses his cutter second most, at a use rate of 31.6%. The cutter averages a velocity of 88.2 mph but is perceived to move a little quicker at 89.1 mph. The cutter has not fared well so far this year. In starts in April and May, the cutter has achieved a SLGA of .488 and .500, respectively.

The former Blue Jay features a change up a fair amount, at a usage rate of 15.7%. The velocity of the change up is right around average at an average velocity of 84.6 mph. Interestingly, the change up is perceived to move at a slower 84.4 mph with spin rate.

Price straightens batters up with a fastball 13.2% of the time that comes in at a velocity around 92-93 mph. The fastball has been a great pitch for Price this year. In five April starts, batters held a .125 BA against the pitch.

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Price’s repertoire is completed with an occasional knuckle curve. Used just 2.0% of the time, the pitch has clearly fallen out of favour with the alleged Fortnite addict. The career use rate of the curve sits at 9.3% and in 2012 it was used 11.1% of the time. Despite this, Price clearly feels that the curve is not as effective as it once was. This is good news for the Blue Jays, a team that struggled greatly with two pitchers that threw knuckle curves.

Price has done a good job of keeping opposing batters to the big part of the field. This year, Price has pitched to centre-field contact 42.7% of the time. This has helped him prevent the long ball, which he has allowed just four times this year, accumulating to a great 1.0 HR9 for the season.

Despite excelling in preventing home runs, Price has struggled mightily with the free pass. In seven starts, the southpaw has allowed 16 walks, accumulating to a bad BB9 of 3.9—a full unit higher than his career average rate of 2.9. Batters aren’t chasing Price’s pitches like they used to, it seems. This year, Price has achieved swinging strikes just 8.2% of the time, down from his career average of 9.8%. Even worse, he is not getting in front in at-bats. Price has garnered a first pitch strike 61.0% of the time this year, while his career average is 64.5%.

The Blue Jays have not fared well against David Price over the years. All of Josh Donaldson, Curtis Granderson, Teoscar Hernandez, Luke Maile, Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak, and Yangervis Solarte have experience against the southpaw. The only batter with somewhat respectable numbers against Price is Solarte. The Venezuela native has accumulated three hits in eleven at-bats with a .788 OPS. Granderson will likely be happy to watch Saturday from the bench (in accordance to his platoon role). The veteran has just 10 hits in 51 at-bats and a .672 OPS against Price.

Next: Marcus Stroman heads to the 10 day DL

This is not the same David Price that drove up ticket sales and brought hope back to Canada’s baseball team. Therefore, the Blue Jays will try to work contrary to their past numbers and mount some offence against their former teammate. However, past numbers usually tell the tale—expect a low scoring game.