The Rays have placed David Price on the 15-day disabled list a day after the defending Cy Young award winner left his start against the Red Sox in the third inning due to tightness in his left triceps. This marks the first DL stint in the 27-year-old's career and could provide a welcome respite for the Rays' ace in a season that has not gone the way he or the team expected.
Though Price's walk rate this season has actually been a career low, nearly everything else about his performance in 2013 has headed in the wrong direction, including a two mile-per-hour drop in velocity and a big spike in his line-drive rate.
Those last two two bits of information make what would otherwise seem like fluky spikes in his hit and home run rates appear more legitimate. (He's allowed a .345 opponent's average on balls in play and his home-run-per-fly-ball percentage is up to 10.3 percent from 7.3 percent the last two years.) However, it's also true that the Rays' dismal run support, just 3.4 runs per 27 outs, has given Price no room for error. Despite his apparent struggles and high ERA (he hits the DL with a 5.24 mark), five of Price's first eight starts were quality, and his ERA in his six starts previous to Wednesday night was a less-than-alarming 3.89.
Still, velocity dips are always alarming, particularly when they are accompanied by reduced effectiveness, so this DL stint just might prove to be the best thing for Price, who isn't terribly concerned about the injury itself.
"We're just giving it some time to calm down," Price told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I feel pretty good today." Per Rays manager Joe Maddon, Price's MRI didn't show any hot spots, and the team and the pitcher both believe he could return after the minimum 15 days. In the meantime, 25-year-old lefty Alex Torres, who has posted a 2.39 ERA and 11.7 K/9 in seven starts for Triple-A Durham thus far this season, will take Price's place in the rotation. The hope for the Rays, who won six games in a row before losing Price's start Wednesday night, is that when Price does return he'll do so as his 2012 version and be able to lead them back into contention.