Blue Jays: J.A. Happ Opposes David Price in Series Opener

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) /

On Thursday, July 12, the Blue Jays will begin a four game series against the Boston Red Sox. The four game set will close the “first half” of the Blue Jays season as they enter the All Star break. David Price will take the bump for the Sox in opposition to J.A. Happ.

To say David Price has been a lightning rod for Red Sox fans’ disappointment over the past few years may be an understatement. Some players are made for Boston, and others aren’t. The lefty has clearly crumbled under the increased pressure and scrutiny over the past few years.

Most recently the southpaw made history for the Red Sox, but not for a good reason. While pitching against the Kansas City Royals on July 7, he hit three batters in just one inning. No other Boston pitcher had completed this feat before. However, as a testament to the offence of the Sox, the team still won the game 15-4.

July has been a disappointing month for the left-hander. After posting a 2.90 ERA in the month of June, Price opened July allowing nine hits and eight earned runs across three and a third innings. Through two starts in the month of July the lefty has posted a 13.50 ERA.

While Price has shown flashes of brilliance, particularly in June, his overall numbers are not that strong. Through eighteen starts he has posted a 4.44 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.273 WHIP, and 98 ERA+.

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As most Blue Jays fans likely remember, the southpaw uses five different pitches to achieve his outs on the field. This season the lefty has used a sinker, cutter, change-up, four seam fastball, and curveball.

The sinker has been featured 35.9% of the time this season. The sinking-fastball averages a velocity of 93.33 mph, with slight arm-side fade. The pitch has been quite effective this season, posting a .200 BAA and .329 SLGA. As well, the sinker has resulted in the most strikeouts—resulting in 46 on the year.

Price has fired home his cutter 28.08% of the time this season. The cutter is not that fast, posting an average velocity of 89.08 mph, but it breaks decently well to the arm side. Despite this decent movement, however, the pitch has been terrible, allowing seven home runs and a .532 SLGA.

The southpaw has changed speeds on batters 18.22% of the time this season. The off speed pitch fades and drops well to the arm side, while maintaining an average velocity of 85.54 mph. However, the pitch has not been kind to the lefty, allowing a .288 BAA and .425 SLGA. The BABIP against the change is a decently high .339, though, so these numbers may drop in the future.

The left-handed hurler has straightened batters up with a four seam fastball 14.3% of the time this season. The heater is just a little bit faster than the sinker, posting an average velocity of 93.57 mph. The four seamer has been very effective, allowing a tiny .196 BAA. Although, despite keeping batters off the bases with hits, the pitch has allowed seven base runners via base on balls this year.

Price’s repertoire is completed with a very occasional curveball. The curve is used just 3.5% of the time—a use rate so infrequent it is almost irrelevant. The hook has not resulted in many whiffs and has allowed a terrible .500 BAA and monstrous 1.333 SLGA—including three home runs.

While his pitching repertoire screams ground ball pitcher, the southpaw relies on fly balls predominantly to make his outs. These fly balls have hurt him, though, as he currently holds a bloated 13.6% HR/FB rate.

Since joining the Red Sox, the lefty’s walk rates have slowly climbed—while his strikeout rates haven’t changed. Through eighteen starts, the Sox starter has managed a 23.8% K-rate and 8.97 K/9. However, his walk rate, as mentioned is up about three percent since he joined the Sox, posting an 8% BB-rate and 3.02 BB/9.

The Blue Jays have not enjoyed hitting against the Vanderbilt alumn. The only two hitters that have hit Price well are Randal Grichuk and Devon Travis. Grichuk has gone two-for-four with a double and Travis has five hits, including a home run, in 14 at-bats. Curtis Granderson has never liked hitting against the lefty hurler, managing just ten hits in 51 at-bats—four of these hits were home runs, though.

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The Blue Jays have a chance to further ruin the month of July for their former teammate. With two bad starts in the month already, a third against the Blue Jays would only turn the heat up on the veteran.