Velocity down, Price searching for answers

Red Sox lefty says it's been tough, but he's confident in a turnaround

May 7th, 2016

NEW YORK -- Seven starts into his Red Sox tenure, David Price has a 6.75 ERA and a fastball that is a couple of miles per hour slower than it's been for most of his career.

As you might imagine, those two go hand in hand.

In Saturday's 8-2 loss to the Yankees, Price gave up six runs for the second straight start. In the previous outing at Fenway Park -- also against the Yankees -- Price was at least able to go seven innings.

This time, he was out after throwing 104 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings.

"I feel like the more velocity that you have, the more mistakes you get away with," said Price. "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. I'm going to work these next four days and be ready to go."

Price's fastest pitch in Saturday's loss registered at 93.5 mph. His average fastball was 92.5 mph. For most of Price's career, he has sat in the mid-90s with his four-seamer.

But the lower-90s have been his home so far this year, and the left-hander is still getting used to it.

Price and the Red Sox are both adamant that the decreased velocity isn't health related.

"It's down a little bit from maybe what we've been accustomed to seeing, but that's not health-related," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Right now we're examining everything. Physically, he checks out, as we check all of our pitchers after a start. So it's not a health-related issue."

There are a few possible reasons for the decrease in speed. Price logged 243 2/3 innings last year, including the postseason. Also, it sometimes takes pitchers a few weeks into the season to build arm strength. The early season weather could also be a factor.

Is Price confident he'll get some velocity back?

"Absolutely," Price said. "Today was nice. I didn't feel cold or anything like that. I've had a fair share of starts where it's been pretty tough out there. But I'll move on and I'll get better."

Pitching coach Carl Willis will do whatever he can to aid the process.

"I think it will come back," Willis said of Price's velocity. "He's in good shape, he works extremely hard, and I think he's learning, as he learned last year, to utilize other pitches, the breaking ball being one of those pitches that he threw more frequently last year than he had earlier in his career. He's a smart guy. He knows how to pitch. It's just getting that stuff back."

Price's day started with two scoreless innings, but the Yankees got one in the third, three in the fourth and two in the fifth.

"I don't know if there's anything necessarily mechanical here," said Farrell. "I think the biggest thing was just a consistent finishing pitch. The film review, the work he's done between starts, it's not like there's a glaring deficiency or flaw in his delivery. It's more the finishing action to the pitch."

Confidence, Price says, is not an issue.

"Absolutely," said Price. "I know how I can throw the baseball out there. It's just not happening right now. This has definitely been the toughest stretch and the longest stretch. It's been tough, for sure. I know things are going to turn around. I'm still positive."

How can Price fix his struggles?

"Sitting down and thinking about it," Price said. "Kind of re-evaluating what's happened and move forward. I've got to be able to flush it. ... It's not fun. I don't enjoy it. I've got to get better."

The Red Sox have great confidence that he will.

"I'm definitely not worried at all," said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. "He's one of the best pitchers in the game. He's not pitching like we know he's supposed to, but he's one of the best."