Last year, the Red Sox started the season with David Price as the lone left-handed starting pitcher (Eduardo Rodriguez was injured until May 31st).
Although it appears Steven Wright will get the nod over Eduardo Rodriguez to start the year, Boston could start 2017 with four lefties if they wanted.
“It’s definitely easier to be able to equate what you do watching these left-handed pitchers pitch,” Price said. “Whenever Porce (Rick Porcello) is out there and he throws a sinker into a righty, you might be able to think ‘OK, well maybe that’s a good pitch for me to throw a cutter into a righty. It kind of does the same stuff.
“But to be able to watch guys that throw with the same arm and watch they way that they attack hitters is definitely helpful.”
While Price, Rodriguez, Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz all throw from the same side, they differ in more ways than one. Pomeranz throws slower than the other three. Rodriguez has relied on his change-up heavily in the past. Price uses a healthy mix of cutter and two-seam fastball instead of a four-seamer.
“I think he’s got a little bit more funk and probably causes some crazy deception,” Price said explaining his new teammate. “I wouldn’t want to be a left-handed hitter standing in the box with him.
“I was in the box last year with [Madison] Bumgarner and I know Sales a little bit further out [to the side] than he is. And Bumgarner was . . . that ball was starting out behind me and ending up off the plate away, so I could only imagine in there with Sale and you have 96-97 coming at you with the slider that he throws and his changeup.”
Although there may not be anyone else on the planet who throws like Sale, there is something Price hopes to learn from his new teammate -- how to effectively use his batting practice fastball.
“He uses his BP fastball really well,” Price said. “For me that’s a tough thing to do, especially at this level if you go out there and give up a big hit when you’re throwing that. I think is a very good pitch, it’s something that we did in college to change up that timing for that hitter.
“He does it really well. He gets ahead with it a lot, gets a lot of weak contact early in the count that turns into outs -- that’s huge.”
Sale has thrown on staffs with multiple lefties and even thrown alongside some all-star caliber southpaws -- José Quintana and Mark Buehrle. But he doesn’t think that will have much of a role in his appearances.
“Not at all, I don’t think at all,” Sale said when asked if he thinks having multiple lefties in the rotation affects his starts. “You’re gonna face the lineup you’re gonna face and pitching in front of and behind guys. You’re going out there to win a ballgame you’re not thinking about attacking the hitters and getting them out. You try to not let that stuff get in the way.”
Meanwhile, with all these lefties in the rotation, that leaves Boston with one right-handed starter, Rick Porcello.
Much like Price, Porcello sees the value in having pitchers who throw from the same side. Last year, Porcello had both Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz to start the season, but he’ll have to adjust much like Price did to begin 2016.
“The only thing that changes for me is I like watching the games -- especially if I have the last game of the series,” Porcello said. “And it’s a little bit harder for me to pick up where guys are at those first two games of the series because we are running out all lefties -- and it’s completely different from a right-handed pitcher.
“In that regard, I just gotta watch a little bit more video and be a little bit more in-tuned with that stuff. I’m not going to see it in-game as much.”
For those wondering, “isn’t Steven Wright right-handed?” Studying one of the knuckleballer’s starts might even be counterproductive.
“If I could flutter one in there and miss a barrel I would,” Porcello said with a laugh.
The only question remaining: “Why does Boston having four lefties when they play at a ballpark that’s extremely friendly to right handed hitters?”
“I think when you look at ‘who are the lefties,’ and when it’s Chris Sale, when it’s David Price, they’re elite, regardless of the ballpark,” Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said, who admitted he “loves left-handed pitchers,” despite not having been one. “I don’t think we’re going to be putting a ton of stock in the fact that potentially we could have four lefties [at a righty hitter-friendly park]. I think they’re four legitimate left-handed pitchers.”