By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price knows the Tigers brought him in as one of the final pieces to what the organization hopes will be a World Series team, and he appreciates it.
“It’s awesome, it is, to I guess be one of the final pieces of this puzzle. It’s a cool feeling,” Price said Saturday. “What these guys have here is definitely something special. They have a one-track mind, and that’s getting to the World Series and not only playing that last game but winning it, and that’s special whenever you have that feeling in the clubhouse and in the dugout and more importantly out there on the field, so I’m looking forward to getting to be a part of that.”
Price joins an impressive rotation with Cy Young Award winners in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the 2013 ERA champion in Anibal Sanchez and an almost-All-Star in Rick Porcello, a rising young pitcher whose ERA this season is better than those of Verlander, Scherzer and Sanchez.
“I don’t want to be the odd man out,” Price said. “I want to come in and continue to come do the things that I’ve done every fifth day on the baseball field. And if I can throw the ball the way that I have over the past two months, I think I’ll fit in just fine.”
Over the past two months, Price has an ERA of 1.98. Even in the midst of a career that already includes impressive achievements – including the Cy Young in 2012 – Price’s recent dominance stands out.
“I’m commanding the strike zone at a rate I really never have,” Price said. “Strike one, throwing strikes, I know I throw a lot of strikes. If it’s 0-2, I’m not trying to get a guy out of the strike zone. Doing that, the hitters, they definitely know that, so 0-0, I’m getting swings, 0-1. Guys are trying to not just put the ball in play, they’re trying to force early action, and that’s what I want.”
Price also wants to pitch deep in games, which the Tigers undoubtedly would appreciate since their bullpen has had more than its share of rough patches this season.
“Six innings is, I feel like that kind of used to be the staple, you want to get through six,” Price said. “If I get through six, I don’t care if I give up zero or one, I’m not going to be tremendously happy about that start. Seven innings is cool, but I definitely want to get 25, 27 outs in a game. I want to be to pitch into that eighth and ninth inning. That’s what I take pride in.”
As well as Price has thrown the ball lately, some have pointed to his mediocrity in the playoffs as a downside. While Price pitched extremely well in relief as a rookie in 2008, his few postseason appearances since then have been less than dazzling. His overall postseason ERA is 5.06, and in his only postseason start of 2013, Price allowed seven runs in seven innings.
“I know I can pitch in the postseason,” Price said. “I did it when I was a rookie in 2008 when I had no idea about major league baseball, really, and I was facing good teams at that time. Came in this park with bases loaded, facing Miguel, I think I was facing two, three, four in that lineup and got through it, so that was a big moment for me right there, and I look forward to keep on building.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of postseason starts,” Price added later. “I don’t know how many starts it is, I know Game 163 last year didn’t count, but that was, that’s a Game 5 or a Game 7 of the postseason because if you lose that game you go home. I know I faced Texas quite a few times, and that is a team that I can’t stand facing. They know that. That’s a park I really struggle to pitch in, but I know I can pitch in the postseason.”