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.

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Per BrooksBaseball.net, 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.

World Series MVP Pearce returns to Red Sox with 1-year deal

World Series MVP Pearce returns to Red Sox with 1-year deal

World Series MVP Steve Pearce is returning to the Red Sox.

Pearce, 35, who hit three home runs in the World Series, including two in series-clinching Game 5, has agreed to a one-year contract, the Red Sox announced Friday.

The deal is worth $6.25 million, NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich confirms. That's the same salary Pearce made last season in the final year of a two-year deal he signed with Toronto before the 2017 season. 

“We’re thrilled to have Steve back with us for another year as we think he’s a great fit for our club,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in a team press release. “Obviously, we all saw what kind of impact he can have on the field, especially with the postseason that he had. He also provides good depth and balance from the right side for us.”


Pearce split the regular season between the  Blue Jays and Red Sox, combining to hit .284 (61-for-215) with an .890 OPS, 11 home runs, and 42 RBI in 76 games. 

Pearce started 11 of the Red Sox’ 14 postseason games, all at first base. He reached base via hit or walk in each of his 12 playoff games, batting .289 (11-for-38) with four home runs, 11 RBI, a 1.083 OPS, nine walks and eight strikeouts. After homering in Game 4 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium and adding two home runs in Game 5, Pearce was named the Series MVP. In the Fall Classic, each of his four hits went for extra bases, as he posted a .500 on-base percentage with eight RBI against the Dodgers.

In the regular season, he made 28 starts at first base, 19 at designated hitter, seven in left field, and two in right field. Acquired from Toronto with cash considerations on June 28, Pearce appeared in 50 games with Boston, batting .279 (38-for-136) with a .394 on-base percentage.

Against left-handed pitchers in 2018, Pearce batted .304 (31-for-102) with a .400 on-base percentage and .559 slugging percentage. He hit five of his regular-season home runs against the Yankees, including three on Aug. 2.

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Yankees not afraid to spend big on MLB free agents, says Brian Cashman

Yankees not afraid to spend big on MLB free agents, says Brian Cashman

The time for MLB free agency almost is here, and the New York Yankees are prepared to spend a lot of money, if needed, to improve a team that was eliminated from the 2018 postseason by the rival Boston Red Sox. 

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who is on stranger to signing the best free agents on the market, recently gave some insight into the team's free-agent mindsight.

"I think we're always open-minded to being big or small players," Cashman said, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "I don't think it really matters what we wind up doing, as long as we do well enough that we become the best team in baseball. We're capable of being big-game hunters. We've reset our luxury tax.

"Hal Steinbrenner and the Steinbrenner family have always been massively supportive of this franchise for the fans. We're capable. We'll see if we execute on that level, if this is the winter that we choose to do that, or if we go a different direction. Everything we try to do is in the best interests of the franchise, present and future."

The Yankees' pitching was exposed in the playoffs against the Red Sox. Luis Severino struggled and the bullpen wasn't as formidable as it was during the regular season. Adding a premier starting pitcher should be a prioirty for Cashman and Co., and Hoch notes that indeed is the case.

The top free-agent arms expected to be available are Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton and Nathan Eovaldi. Corbin could be an ace, but pitching in Arizona is a lot different than the pressure that comes with playing at Yankee Stadium and dealing with the New York media.

The Yankees do need to spend somewhere to overtake a deeper and more talented Red Sox team, and after taking a relatively quiet approach last winter, New York would be wise to open up the checkbook for substantial improvements. 

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