Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: David Price
On Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays will begin a tough three-game set against the division rival Boston Red Sox. The series opener will pit David Price against Aaron Sanchez.
David Price was excellent against the Blue Jays when they played earlier this month in Toronto. The lefty has built on the strong start in Toronto, allowing just three earned runs over his last two starts. To be fair, one of these starts was against the lowly 17-36 Baltimore Orioles. However, to keep the Tampa Bay Rays to just one earned run across six innings pitched is decently impressive.
Price enters Monday’s start at Boston with an improved 4-4 record, 4.08 ERA, 1.238 WHIP, and 109 ERA+. However, the left-hander has struggled at home, posting a 1-2 record, 4.37 ERA, four home runs, and nine walks across four home starts and 22 2/3 innings pitched this season.
The southpaw offers a fair amount of pitches, alternating between a sinker, cutter, change-up, four-seam fastball, and occasional knuckle curveball. Since his last start against the Jays, Price has found more trust in his sinker, while losing some in his cutter.
Price offers a 93 mph sinker 36.9% of the time. As alluded to before, the sinker has experienced a 5.3% uptick in usage from the lower 31.6% rate it held before his start last start against Toronto. This year the sinker has produced both a great .192 batting average against and 22 strikeouts.
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The cutter has diminished in importance among Price’s repertoire. The cut-fastball is used 30.7%, down about seven percent since the Blue Jays last saw their former teammate. Likely the reason for the loss of trust, the cutter has allowed four of the six home runs Price has allowed this season.
Price changes speed on batters 17.8% of the time while averaging a velocity of 84.6 mph. The off-speed pitch has produced groundballs on 56.25% of balls in play, a great rate. This high groundball rate is likely a result of the minimal movement on the change. While it fools batters, they don’t flat out miss the pitch, instead of topping the ball, leading to groundballs.
Price completes his offerings with occasional four-seam fastballs and curveballs. The southpaw has featured the heater 11.5% of the time while mixing in a hook 3.2% of the time. Neither pitch has produced good results for the lefty. The four-seamer holds a bad .500 SLG against and the curve has posted an even worse 1.600 SLG against. Amazingly, the hook holds a ridiculously high 1.000 BABIP.
The southpaw has produced fly balls at a high rate of 40.5% this season but still has managed a good 9.4% HR/FB rate. Indicative of this low rate, the lefty holds a great 0.94 HR/9. The left-hander still struggles with walks, however, allowing 22 walks in 10 starts—and three walks in his last start against Tampa.
The left-hander’s walk rate is more concerning when viewed in companion with his LOB%. Price’s LOB%, the rate at which a pitcher strands runners on the bases, currently sits at a poor 67.6%, which could help explain his elevated ERA.
The Blue Jays numbers against Price offer some interesting storylines for this start. Recently called up Devon Travis owns five hits in 12 at-bats with a home run against the Tennessee native. As well, recently acquired infielder Giovanny Urshela has three hits in eight at-bats. Finally, Randal Grichuk, who may be activated off the DL for this game, has two hits, including a double, in four career at-bats against Price. Grichuk could bring a welcome day off for Curtis Granderson, who currently owns just 10 hits in 51 career at-bats against Price.
Next: Blue Jays could learn a thing or two from the Red Sox
Despite not earning many runs last time out against Price, the Blue Jays worked up the lefty’s pitch count well. The Blue Jays will look to mount more offence Monday night, in to win their third straight series-opening game.