Red Sox

He's once again a hard and fast Price . . . to great effectiveness

He's once again a hard and fast Price . . . to great effectiveness

BOSTON -- He’s taken a lot of heat, and on Sunday night he continued to bring a lot.

David Price delivered his most memorable start of the season in a 3-0 win over the Yankees, playing the role of stopper as always envisioned.

It was a hard task.


Per, 96.3 percent of pitches Price threw in eight shutout innings at Fenway Park were hard pitches: fastball, sinkers or cutters. Before Monday, the highest percentage of hard stuff he had relied on inside of one start since joining the Sox was 86.4 percent -- against the Rangers two starts ago.

Price threw just four curveballs on Sunday, three for strikes. The other 103 pitches he threw were sinkers (77) and cutters (26). The former garnered seven swings and misses, the latter six.

That approach fits in with the season overall, although it was to an extreme. Coming off an elbow injury, Price is, remarkably, averaging more fastball-related pitches -- 79.1 percent of pitches -- than he has in any other year in his career except for 2011, when he sat at 80.1 percent.


“He was outstanding. Powerful from start to finish,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “A lot of strikes. Very good command. And it was impressive to see just how he maintained his stuff throughout. You know, fastball to both sides of the plate. I thought he had a really good cutter tonight, particularly with some times when he had some added depth to it.”


Now, Price is not throwing the absolute hardest he ever has. In 2010 and 2011, he sat at 95 mph or above on his hard pitches. Price is certainly throwing harder than he was a year ago, at an average of 93.1 mph -- a big leap from the 92.3 mph stuff he was averaging in 2016, the lowest point of his career velocity wise.

But it’s also a matter of attack. Price is relying on his power stuff in a way that resembles the seasons of his youth, to great effectiveness. And likely because everything plays off the fastball, there’s a reason Price is getting more whiffs per swing on not just his hard stuff, but his breaking balls and off-speed stuff too -- when he throws them.

A year ago, 26.9 percent of breaking balls Price threw that were swung at were missed. This year, he’s at 36.4 percent, the most dramatic rise between the three pitch categories. The only year he had more whiffs per swing on his breaking ball was 2012.

Sunday was the 12th time in Price’s career he’s gone at least eight innings and struck out at least eight while allowing no earned runs. (He did it twice last year, both times against the Rays.)

There’s a location element at play here too. Price is grooving fewer pitches middle-middle, per Brooks' count. His curveball’s getting more depth to it this season -- more vertical movement -- as is his cutter.

When the Sox signed Price, perhaps the greatest concern was the possibility a power arm would no longer perform as that. That Price, who turns 32 in August, would lose what’s helped make him so effective. Someday, like every pitcher, his stuff will diminish. This year, he’s had a revival in not only throwing hard, but in a great reliance on those pitches.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young


Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.