David Price is ready for his mulligan.
And boy, do the Tampa Bay Rays need it badly. With a pitching staff that’s been surprisingly lagging behind all season long and one that’s currently sitting at 22nd place in June with a 4.08 ERA, Joe Maddon and co. could certainly use a boost in the form of their ace southpaw.
That is, if he can get back to pitching like David Price, anyway.
As most of you likely know at by this point, the lefty has not exactly been himself this year … and that would be putting it nicely. A more apt assessment would be simply to say that he’s just not been all that good, carrying a 1-4 record on the season thanks in large part to his own undoing with a 5.29/1.44 ERA/WHIP and .294 BAA.
Those numbers didn’t just make the reigning Cy Young winner not the ace — they made him the weak link in the Rays’ starting rotation. Talk about a comedown.
The hope now is that since he’s been down that road, there’s simply nowhere else to go but up, right? Well, if his second rehab outing from his tricep-caused DL stint is any indication, Price might just be ready to retake his throne atop the team’s starting five. Throwing five shutout innings against Class A Bradenton, he looked to be in form, allowing just a pair of hits and a walk, while striking out eight batters.
Now, given that Class A and the bigs are two different worlds, there’s obviously more to it than just the results. The biggest thing to take away from the start may be the fact that not only did he ramp up his workload to 72 pitches, but he was also able to hit 95 mph on the gun (as reported by Jim Hawkins for MLB.com).
With the concerns about Price’s struggles being velocity-related (he’s averaging 92.8 mph this season, a career-low), being able to get — and maintain — that little extra bit of oomph is perhaps the best indicator that his health issues are a thing of the past.
If all goes well with his bullpen session on Friday, the Rays could be looking at his return as early as next week when they head to the south to take on the Houston Astros — and what better team for the ace to get a fresh start against than that?