Still A Ray, Price Dominates Pirates | The Process Report

Still A Ray, Price Dominates Pirates

For the last seven seasons the summers around these parts have been filled with competitive baseball. With the Rays sporting the league’s worst record this year, some have decided to the void with rumor mongering. The manufactured dramatics were in full force Wednesday afternoon as David Price put his toe to rubber in what was billed as his last potential home game with the franchise.

If the Rays receive an offer for Price that they deem as suitable they will likely make a trade. Of course, this is generally the case with any player at any time. However, guessing where, when and for what pieces is an exercise in futility. What we do know is Price has been a top-shelf starter for half of a decade and is perhaps at the top of his game right now.

Against the Pirates, Price struck out 11 batters while walking just one in 8 1/3 inning. He became the first pitcher to strikeout more than 10 batters in five straight starts since Johan Santana 10 years ago. Through 17 starts, he has 144 strikeouts and 14 walks. Home runs have been an issue, but for the most part he has been dealing.

Over the years Price has traded a few miles on his fastball for more nuance – command namely. That said, the fastball is still the most important piece of the puzzle.

The heater has been both alpha and omega as Price attempts to become the first pitcher to top 300 strikeouts in a season since the early aughts. In terms of beginning plate appearances, Price has thrown nearly 300 first-pitch fastballs this season. His strike rate of 73 percent is mere percentage points behind Phil Hughes for tops in the American League. As far as ending plate appearances, he has used the fastball to complete 83 of his 144 punch outs. On Wednesday he used it to finish off seven of the 11 he put on the board. Nearly all of his strikeouts have been on one edge or the other. More than half of them as called strikes.

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While the fastball has been key, locking the backdoor with cutters has also been an important part of Price’s gaudy strikeout total. He has used the pitch to finish off 35 strikeouts with the majority of them following a fastball in sequence.

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If this was to be Price’s last home game with the Rays it will certainly a day he remembers. He nearly pitched a complete game in victory while striking out double-digit batters. Hours later he watched his alma mater, Vanderbilt, win the College World Series for the first time. His career with Tampa Bay would have ended on a figurative “bang.” Both because of his stellar performance but also for his final pitch being taken out of the park for solo blast.



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