Following his rough outing against the Colorado Rockies where he allowed nine earned runs in 6.2 innings of work, David Price continues to look nothing like the pitcher who was named the Cy Young Award winner last year. Thus far, he is 1-3 on the season, with a 6.25 ERA. While his strikeout to walk rate has been solid, he has allowed 54 hits in his 44.2 innings this season. Something definitely does not seem right.
As it stands, there have been concerns about Price’s possibly decreased velocity – and it appears as though those fears may be valid. Jason Collete took a look at Price’s velocity over his fist seven starts, as well as during his outing against the Rockies, and noticed that while the average speed of his secondary pitches has remained roughly the same over the past year, Price’s fastball is two miles per hour slower.
It was also further noted that Price was able to keep his velocity consistently in the mid 90′s for his first 50 pitches, that velocity began to decrease thereafter, with Price needing to rely more upon his breaking pitches. When looking at his other starts, his fastball velocity had been relatively consistent throughout the game, with his speed dropping after approximately 75 pitches against both the Orioles and the Yankees in back to back starts.
Granted, pitching in Colorado is far different than pitching anywhere else, as the thin air and inability to get consistent depth on breaking pitches can wear on a pitcher. However, the earlier decrease in velocity for Price is concerning, particularly given how he has pitched this season. Is that decrease merely just a factor of pitching in Colorado, or a sign of something else?
In a study done by Alan M. Nathan of the University of Illinois, it was determined that a fastball actually loses less velocity at Coors Field than it does elsewhere. If a fastball is generally a bit faster at Colorado, then the effects of the ballpark would likely be removed as the problem. Therefore, the next likely explanation may be an injury. Is it possible that Price is hurt, and is trying to pitch through the injury?
Losing Price for any stretch of time would be rough for the Rays, as he is likely aware. Before the start of the regular season, he spoke about how he, and the rest of the pitching staff, would need to step up this season. Perhaps he feels that if he reveals any soreness or misses a start, that he would be letting the Rays down.
While there is no proof that David Price is hurt, it is also not outside the realm of possibility. Perhaps it would be best for Price to miss a start, just to get himself back together and to rest up. It would be far better to miss just one of two starts, than to have to worry about going an extended period of time without one of the best pitchers in the game.