David Price is back.
No, I mean he’s really back. The Tampa Bay Rays had arguably been missing their ace all season long, but if Tuesday was any indication, the 44-game DL stint he took to rest an ailing triceps injury was just exactly what he needed to find not only his health, but more importantly his stuff, which had been the culprit to the ugly 5.24/.1.44 ERA/WHIP the last time he pitched.
And you know, there’s just no better team to roll a mulligan against than the Houston Astros.
To say that Price toyed with the AL West basement dwellers might be a bit of an understatement. Throwing seven innings of scoreless ball, the lefty allowed just three hits, no free passes, while setting down a whopping 10 Astros batters.
That, folks, is what you’d call coming back in style.
With all three hits being singles, the Rays ace was never in trouble at any point of his evening. ‘But wait,’ you might say, ‘if he was so dominant, why did he only last seven inning and not the complete game?’ Well, that’d be because Joe Maddon and co. were taking a cautious approach with Price, opting to remove him from the game after 70 pitches.
Yes, that would be an average of 10 pitches per inning … with 10 of his outs coming off strike three. Did I mention that he was really good?
Most importantly than the results (he won’t get to pitch against Houston too often, after all), however, is the fact that Price’s two-seamer averaged a season-high 94.9 mph on the outing with the 27-year-old hitting 95 with regularity, further cementing the notion that nothing has lingered from what sent him to the DL.
If he can maintain the Cy Young-winning form he showed on Tuesday, that might just end up giving the Rays and extra 2-2.5 wins or so through the rest of 2013. And considering just how tightly fought the AL East looks to be through the rest of the season, I think it’d probably be fair to say that Price will be a season-changer for Tampa Bay and their playoff aspirations.