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David Price's First Start PitchFx Extravaganza

In case you were underneath a rock or the influence one of the top pitching prospects in the land made his starting debut last night, and wasn't too bad.

You have to consider two things when you look at the numbers that matter for Price:

1. Price managed to walk three batters despite throwing 68% strikes.

2. Price was pitching in an extended role on three days rest.

5.3 innings, 88 pitches (68% strikes), 10 strikes swinging, 11 groundballs, 6 flyballs, 1 line drive, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, and zero homeruns. Before we move on I want to focus in on the strikes swinging number. 10 of 88 pitches is 11.3%, that is extremely impressive. Cole Hamels just gets (just?) 11.1% strikes swinging, CC Sabathia is not a human and somehow has gotten 17% or more in both leagues this season, Scott Kazmir gets 12%, and Tim Lincecum gets 11.8%. In other words Price is going to strike out quite a number of batters if he can keep that rate up.

The liners, grounders, and strikes are very encouraging when you realize that Price was really only throwing one pitch the entire night.


One disclaimer: I believe he threw at least three change-ups, but they were classified as fastballs, we'll get to that in a moment. 88% fastballs somehow resulted in a ton of grounders and swinging strikes. That alone should speak to the quality of the pitch, but let's look at just how much it breaks and rises.


Remember, that is "in" to left-handed hitters. Price's slider didn't sweep in to righties either, but instead away from lefties. it also appears that the three pitches in the 86-82 range on the right of the graph are Price's change-ups. Unfortunately the Gameday algorithm did not classify them as such, but I can't imagine Price slowed his fastball up ten miles per hour and got the same break.


Price's fastball is very, very good, but how did it stand up to the longest outing (okay, one more pitch) of his career?


Again, it appears he threw a few change-ups, but otherwise he was quite consistant with his velocity. As previously mentioned Price had 68% strikes yet walked three, here's a look at his command:


Price pounded the outside of the plate and rarely missed out of the zone. It doesn't appear that his control is the reason for three walks unless you believe he randomly went through three streaks where all of his outside pitches were thrown. Not unheard of, but somewhat unlikely.

So there you have it, David Price's first career start was a pretty good one with a ton of stuff to be impressed with. In the future I doubt we see too many 1:1 K:BB nights from Price in the future, although I would certainly like to see him use his off-speed stuff a bit more. I suppose that's for the off-season and spring training prep work as he should slide into the Rays rotation for opening day 2009.