Teams face decisions on how to use young aces down stretch
The good news for many contenders is that young starting pitchers such as Tampa Bay's
The San Diego Padres, for instance, already have shut down their ace,
Similar problems must be addressed with Price,
It's a delicate balance. How often can you afford to skip one of your best starting pitchers while you're in a pennant race -- even when he's healthy? And do you keep a pitcher on schedule until he hits his limit, then shut him down, or do you borrow extra rest here and there to try to nurse him through the entire season -- and hope there is something left in the tank in October if you do make the playoffs?
Most teams who are out of the race will choose the former, as the Nationals apparently will do with
The Tigers gave Porcello 15 days of rest around the All-Star break and gave him extra rest for four of his 14 second-half starts. Porcello still wound up throwing 170.2 innings, a jump of 45.2 innings from the previous season. He has struggled in the majors this year (6.14 ERA) after the increased workload.
Here are the young pitchers with contenders this year who bear watching in the second half, including their age, previous high in innings, projected innings for the season (minors included in both cases), and the jump in their projected innings workload:
The most remarkable number to come out of the All-Star Game might have been the 100 mph clocking of Price's fastball, considering his average fastball velocity is 94 mph. Was he really throwing that hard?
"I don't know, but I'll take it," Price said. "I've never thrown a hundred before."
In truth, the gun Fox used on its telecast was a tick or two faster for the first couple of innings than the scoreboard readings at Angels Stadium. And Price admitted that an extra day of rest and the thrill of starting the All-Star Game gave his heater a boost.
"I haven't had that kind of adrenalin since the  postseason," he said.
But whatever the exact reading, Price has been adding velocity to his fastball as he continues to grow into a front-of-the-rotation starter. On July 2 against Minnesota, for instance, he hit 99 mph and averaged 96 with his fastball. In his next start, against Boston, Price threw 100 fastballs out of his 111 pitches, topped out at 97 mph and averaged 95.
With an improved curveball and changeup, Price already has taken a leap forward this season in his progression as a pitcher. Added velocity has made him even more dangerous.
Sometimes a great year can be "hidden" because it spans two seasons.
Now for some perspective on just how impressive it is for two teammates to run up those kinds of numbers in a "year." In the past 40 seasons, only one pair of teammates each has won 19 games with an ERA better than 2.75 and at least 34 starts: