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Thursday, July 8, 2010
David Price's All-Star fastball


The secret to David Price's success? Actually, it's not much of a secret:

A few things about David Price's fastball were evident entering Wednesday night's start versus the Boston Red Sox:

1) It goes fast:

Pitchfx data has his average four-seamer at 94.8 MPH and his two-seamer clocking in at 90.7 MPH.

2) Hard to hit:

A poll of, say, 300 baseball fans right now asking which starting pitcher has the fastball most difficult to hit would probably yield results that showed Stephen Strasburg's heater near the top. As it turns out, Strasburg gets whiffs 9.2% of the time. Price? 9.1%. Not too shabby.

3) He uses it a lot:

More than 70% of the time, as it turns out.

As Anderson notes, last night Price threw even more fastballs than usual: "Thirty-nine of his first 40 pitches were heaters, 100 of 111 overall."

We tend to think a pitcher can't survive by throwing one pitch that often, unless the one pitch is a knuckleball. But there are anecdotal examples, throughout baseball history, of pitchers going with essentially the fastball for entire games and doing just fine. I think it's demonstrably true that the best single pitch in baseball is a hard fastball, well located. And I think some pitchers throw so many breaking balls and change-ups not because they need to, but because they think they're supposed to.

Well, there's another reason. If you don't throw them, you might lose them. And eventually you're probably going to need them, whether in your next start or five years down the road. Still, it's fun to see a guy throw like an old-school reliever for seven innings.

Meanwhile, Joe Girardi says Price is an "extremely strong" candidate to start the All-Star Game, no doubt because of his league-leading 12 wins and second-best 2.42 ERA.

Realistically, though? Whoever starts will probably pitch two innings and face more great hitters than anyone else who pitches later. Girardi's got a pretty good chance of managing the Yankees in the World Series this fall. Doesn't he have to give those two innings to Cliff Lee? For all the obvious reasons?