BOSTON -- It’s safe to say the “David Price Experience” has been eerily similar to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Through his first six starts, he’s had three good outings and three towards the other end of the spectrum. He’s maintained the sequence of good-bad-good throughout the process, with Sunday night being his most recent poor performance.
Additionally (as Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam pointed out in Sunday’s postgame press conference) all three of his rough starts have been at home -- in a park where he was known for pitching well prior to 2016.
“I haven’t executed in this ballpark as well as I know that I’m capable of,” Price said. That’s frustrating, but that’s something I can fix. I felt better today than I did my last start [at Fenway] for sure. But it doesn’t matter how good you feel; you’ve got to be able to execute and that’s what I didn’t do.”
Now, yes, he did keep his team in striking distance -- with just a little help from his offense – and allow John Farrell avoid the bullpen until it was Koji Time, followed by Jonathan Papelbon 2.0. That was a sign that Price is a true ace, especially when Farrell kept the ball in his hands to face Alex Rodriguez in the seventh after giving up two big hits to the righty in previous at-bats.
“He asked me if I was going to really make good pitches in that situation and I told him absolutely,” Price said about his mound conversation with Farrell before he faced Rodriguez.
But in looking at the numbers, Price has only looked like half an ace to start the year. Yes, April has traditionally been his worst month, but his first start in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry came in the first day of May.
So clearly Price has adjustments to make and can’t just switch things off and on whenever he pleases.
After Sunday night’s game, he expressed how execution was his biggest problem, with no better evidence that the home run and double he gave up to Rodriguez.
On the home run, Christian Vazquez called for a fastball down and in, but Price missed up in the zone down the heart of the plate with his first pitch. Then the next time up, Price threw a fastball right down the middle, again -- this time when the count was 1-and-2 – resulting in the two-base hit, which was nearly another home run.
The lefty explained how those pitches were a result of not “getting on top” of the ball enough, making his misses costly.
“If you’re going to miss, miss down not up,” Price said. “And that’s what I haven’t been able to do so far.”
He appears to be aware of the issue. Now's the time for him to adjust.