David Price(notes) entered 2009 as everyone's favorite pitching prospect. The 23-year-old had an excellent spring (2-0, 1.08 ERA) and he was outstanding last year during the most pressure-filled moments of the Rays' season. If you had any doubts about Price's readiness, they should have been put to rest when he saved Game 7 of the ALCS.
Price was optioned to Triple-A back in March, yet no one seriously believed that he wasn't one of the five best starters available to the Rays. It's professional baseball, though, and there are always absurd extenuating circumstances. Price tried (and sorta failed) to be diplomatic:
When asked if he felt the decision was made to stop his arbitration clock from starting, he said, “I don’t know. ... I know ... They’ll tell you whatever they feel they need to tell you. I’m not getting caught in that.”
He's been far from perfect as a member of the Durham Bulls. Price's record is just 1-4 and his ERA is 3.93, although he has 35 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. The Rays have been appropriately cautious with him. Price still hasn't completed more than five innings in any start and Sunday's outing against Rochester was no different. He left after five frames and 82 pitches, and he struck out nine.
The only thing that distinguished yesterday's start from any other is the fact that Price hadn't allow a hit when he was yanked. If you're a Durham die-hard, this must drive you insane. But if you're a Tampa Bay fan or some dude patiently waiting on Price in a fantasy league, it's welcome news.
The Rays are currently 19-20, seven games behind Toronto in the A.L. East. Their fourth starter has an ERA of 7.36 and the fifth is at 5.35. Seems like there's a compelling argument to give Price a look, and soon. He certainly hasn't been overused.
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