Following Saturday's disappointing start in which David Price allowed six earned runs, seven hits, and three walks, questions about his effectiveness and health continue to linger.
After seven starts this season, Price's statistics on the season are a 4-1 record with an inflated 6.75 ERA through 41-and-one-third innings. The former American League Cy Young award winner leads the league in both earned runs (31) and strikeouts (53). Yet, somewhat surprisingly, Saturday's outing was Price's first loss of the year.
"I've got to be able to flush it," Price said to John Tomase of WEEI about his first month plus in Beantown. "My first six or seven starts have sucked. It's not fun. I don't enjoy it. I've got to get better."
But the biggest concern thus far has been the lack of velocity on Price's fastball. Through seven starts, Price's average fastball velocity is 91.8 mph, according to FanGraphs. That number is nearly three miles-per-hour off his career velocity of 94.2 mph
Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis is confused -- and partially concerned -- about Price's performance thus far, especially since the veteran southpaw claims to be healthy.
"Really, we just haven't seen the velocity at this point that he's had before," Willis said to ESPN. "It is May 7, so power pitchers tend to get it a little later, and we're starting to get into May now."
Just last season, Price was once again one of the AL's most dominant hurlers. In 32 starts, Price finished 18-5 with a league-best 2.45 ERA while splitting time between the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays. He was the runner-up for the AL Cy Young award and made his fifth All-Star team.
His average velocity on the fastball last season was 94 mph.
"I feel like the more velocity that you have, the more mistakes you get away with," Price said. "Right now, I'm not getting away with mistakes -- or good pitches, for that matter. That's part of it. They hit some good pitches today."
Manager John Farrell added that Price's lack of velocity is forcing him to rely heavily on his off-speed pitches "to set up or make his fastball more effective."
"He's having to mix, change speeds. I would venture to say he recognizes that where the velocity is today -- 91 to 93 -- is not what he's been accustomed to."The Red Sox have been the beneficiaries of strong starts from Steven Wright (2-3, 1.67 ERA) and Rick Porcello (5-1, 2.95 ERA). Porcello, much like Price, suffered his first loss of the season against the Yankees during this weekend's three-game series.
Despite losing the first two games of the series -- and looking to avoid a sweep later tonight -- the Red Sox sit atop the AL East with an 18-12 record. However, the team will expect more reliable pitching from Price going forward, and he expects the same.
Being able to make adjustments on the fly, whether it's pitch-to-pitch or game-to-game or day-to-day," said of his ability to adjust. "That's something I've done extremely well, and it's something I need to do right now."
[Featured Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]