After signing David Price to a monster seven-year, $217 million contract this past offseason, the Boston Red Sox expected an ace. They expected a dominant ace. They expected someone to whom they could hand the ball every fifth day and feel almost positive that they would win.
Well, they haven’t gotten that.
True, Price is 4-1 in seven starts, but he also has a 6.75 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP and has allowed 6+ earned runs in three of his last four starts.
Should the Red Sox be concerned?
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” MLB insider C.J. Nitkowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “This is legitimate. I watch him and one of the things that concerns me – his stuff is still there, I’m not worried about (that). He’s still getting swings and misses. But there have been a lot of misses over the plate. We know he throws a lot of strikes. He’s not afraid to fill up the strike zone. The problem is, you do that in Boston – where it’s not the greatest place for left-handed pitchers to pitch – you start to run into some problems.”
Price has failed to reach the fifth inning in two of his last four starts, allowing eight runs and two homers in 3 and 2/3 innings in a 12-8 loss to Tampa Bay on April 21, and, in his most recent start, six runs on seven hits in 4 and 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss to the Yankees.
“If you watch any of his games, you’ll see he doesn’t have the natural run on his fastball,” Nitkowski said. “His arm-side run – that would be like a fast ball that runs away from right-hand hitters – he actually has a little bit of a natural cut to it. When he misses, he misses middle. When he tries to throw that pitch in, he’s fine. When he tries to throw it away to righties and he misses it, it comes back over the middle of the plate. He gets himself in trouble. John Farrell, his manger, talked about never seeing him miss pitches up in the zone as much as he’s seen this year. That has to be corrected.”
Price does have 53 strikeouts in 41 and 1/3 innings, which is nice. But the earned runs have come in bunches, which isn’t.
“It’s great that he’s throwing strikes, but he has run into some legitimate issues here with putting the ball where he’s wanted to,” Nitkowski said. “You hope that its just maybe early season, dealing with a little bit of the weather that you have to do in April. But I got to think that the honeymoon is over now between him and Red Sox fans and they are really anticipating much better production.”