I haven't had time to really flesh this out into a coherent post, so here are some random, assorted thoughts on the game:
- David Price has gotten a bad rap for struggling in big games this season, and while I really want to dissuade all that talk as a myth, I also can't ignore this one fact: Price has the lowest Clutch score (-2.0) of any starting pitcher in the majors this season. Part of this could simply be that he pitches in close games frequently, but to have such a dramatic score, it also suggests that he's had trouble pitching once men get on base and in getting good results in important situations. Bad luck? Poor performance? It's impossible to separate the two, but it's likely a bit of both.
Luckily for us, though, clutch performance is in no way predictive. Maybe Price has been bad in high-leverage spots this season, but he was above-average in Clutch last season and around average the season before. In other words: past unclutch performances =/= future unclutch performances.
In general, it's much safer to assume that good pitchers will get good results more often than not, rather than penalizing Price for his seemingly unclutch performance this season. Price has posted a 3.48 ERA and the best peripheral statistics (3.32 FIP, 3.12 SIERA) of his career this season; he's still an ace starter, and one of the best pitchers in the league.
So keep faith in Price, and even if he botches up today, don't overextrapolate the results. It's unfair to label him an unclutch pitcher; the very most we can say is he's having an unclutch season, which may or may not continue.
- But seriously, even though Matt Moore succeeded by throwing almost all fastballs, Price needs to break away from the habit of throwing 99% fastballs (I may be exaggerating slightly). Price does have impressive four- and two-seam fastballs, but they haven't gotten the job done all by themselves recently. It's seems like a trite cliche, but hitters can time up a fastball if that's all you throw them, even if that fastball is 95 MPH.
Considering the Rangers' lineup is so heavy with right-handed power hitters, I hope Price uses today as an excuse to break out his curveball and changeup more frequently. Pitches with vertical break are most effective against opposite-handed hitters, and J.C. Mitchell made the great observation last week that the Rangers struggle against curveballs. Moore's curveball saw solid results against Texas, and I imagine Price's curve would as well if he uses it today.
- Hey, the Trop suppresses right-handed power by something like 8%. Let's hope that's enough to give the Rangers some struggles.