Getting Ahead With David Price | The Process Report

Getting Ahead With David Price

David Price employs a fantastic two-strike approach that allows him to freeze hitters based on unpredictability and command. Staring down a strikeout, he can either attach with a mid-90s fastball to his glove-side or go with a low-90s cutter that dots the arm-side corner. This strategy has been extremely successful against right-handed hitters which account for nearly 80 percent of the total his has faced this year.

Of course to be able to use the heat to freeze – something that only makes sense in baseball – Price has to get in favorable counts. This is something he has excelled at since returning from the disabled list in July. Since his return, no pitcher in the American League has jumped ahead 0-1 (minimum 150 batters faced) more frequently than Price. Not surprisingly, he also paces the lead in 0-2 counts during the same time frame.

Prior to his stay on the DL, Price was struggling a bit on first pitches.  Fastballs and cutters – the paralysis combo – made up about three-fourths of his 0-0 pitches. Perhaps knowing something hard was coming, hitters carried a .333 average with a .778 OPS against his first pitches over his first nine starts. Right-handed hitters led the charge with a .438 average and an OPS over 1.000.

In the seven since returning, the opposition is hitting .242 against Price on first-pitches. Righties are down to just .231. Not surprisingly, the process has changed.

I was tipped off the the difference after reading Bryan Murphy of Murphy noted Price’s pitch selection against Pablo Sandoval on Saturday night; a selection process which left the right-handed slugger dazed and confused.

Price started the plate appearance with a pair of changeups before mixing in cutters and fastballs at the end. On the seventh pitch, Sandoval fouled tipped a 95-mph fastball into the glove of Jose Molina for the strikeout. I’ll let Murphy explain a bit further..

That last swing of the plate appearance was telling. Pablo had no idea what was going on. And by sticking to the corners rather than working down or up, Price stayed away from any sort of Kung Fu Panda-type of magic. This was all setup by those first two changeups. David Price is a fantastic pitcher and that third plate appearance of the night really showed us how.

As it turns out, Sandoval is not the only right-handed batter that has been baffled by Price’s usage. Upon his return from injury, Price has mixed it up quite a bit early in counts which has helped him get ahead. This helps set up his fastball and cutter for strikeouts. If not, the strikeout, hitters are entering “swing mode” which has led to quicker outs.

The biggest difference in early sequencing has been the first-pitch changeup. Price has faced 168 right-handed batters since July. Nearly one-third of those hitters have seen a changeup to start the plate appearance. That number was below 20 percent previously. The bulk of those have been buried in a tight corner of the strike zone, arm-side and down.


The mixing does not stop there. Following the first-pitch changeup, Price has doubled up on the off-speed or thrown a curveball 46 percent of the time. From here, the lefty can use the cutter and fastball to cross the T’s and dot the I’s on the rest of the plate appearance.

Admittedly this may have little predictability – if any at all- on how Price will approach at-bats going forward, or if he will continue to have sustained success. That said, he has been extremely effective and efficient since returning to active duty, and masterful sequencing has been a large part of that.