Is the Price right against the Yankees?

Price is in command
David Price does not have a shiny ERA or win-loss record this season (6-7, 3.63), but his command of the strike zone is historic, and the most popular ERA estimators (FIP, xFIP) indicate he is having the best season of his career.

With 144 strikeouts and 14 walks, he is on pace to be the third qualified pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to post a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10.0 or better (Bret Saberhagen, 11.0 in 1994; Cliff Lee, 10.3 in 2010).

He has at least 10 strikeouts in each of his last five games, the first pitcher to do that since Johan Santana in 2004. The only pitchers with longer streaks of double-digit strikeouts are Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan.

Against righties, he’ll often pull the string with a cutter, which has accounted for 33 of his 110 strikeouts vs opposite-handed batters, who have a meager .173/.182/.245 line against the pitch this season.

As you can see in the heat maps below, the cutter is so effective because Price is able to backdoor it against right-handed hitters, consistently locating the pitch on the outer edge of the zone.

Price cutter vs RHB

Against lefties, Price dominates with his 92-93 mph fastball that has incredible movement: the 11.5 inches of horizontal break is by far the largest for any starting pitcher’s heater this season. His 28 strikeouts with his fastball against lefties are the most by a left-hander and rank in the top 10 among all pitchers.

Price vs Yankees
Price has faced the Yankees twice this season with mixed results: six runs in five innings at Tampa Bay on April 17; two runs in seven innings in the Bronx on May 2.

In the win in April, the Yankees fell behind often against Price (16 of 25 batters started with strike one) but were still able to do damage, going 9-for-16 with six extra-base hits after reaching an 0-1 count.

In the May 2 game, Price was able to neutralize the Yankee bats by keeping the ball on the ground. His groundball rate of 60 percent was a season-high, and though the Yankees got hits on six of the 12 grounders, all six hits were singles and five came with the bases empty.

Perhaps the biggest key for the Yankees in the April 17 win was their ability to get to Price when he threw from the stretch. They went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position against Price in that game, but were 0-for-4 during the loss in May.

Notable Matchups
Mark Teixeira has a .229 career batting average against Price, but five of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases, including three homers.

Despite his team-leading 15 home runs, it would be a surprise if Teixeira was able to take Price deep in this game. Teixeira has struggled to hit for power from the right side of the plate this season, with a slugging percentage that is nearly 150 points lower against left-handers compared to right-handers.

Over the last four seasons, Derek Jeter is 15-for-46 (.326) against Price and has reached base more than 41 percent of the time.

Jeter has punished Price when he throws him a pitch in the zone, hitting .385 and slugging .513 in 39 at-bats since 2010. He is 0-for-7, albeit with seven walks, in 14 plate appearances ending in a pitch out of the strike zone from Price during that span.

Did You Know?
Price has averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings in his career vs the Yankees, his second-lowest strikeout rate vs any team (min. 5 games). He has never struck out 10 Yankees in a game.

Former ESPN researcher; forever baseball and Yankees fan. Now living in northern Vermont and the color of the front door of our house is Yankee blue. Also write about college football and basketball and the NFL. Bleed Huskies blue (that's UConn, of course).

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