Change-up made all the difference for David Price

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Entering Thursday night’s ALCS Game 5, if you had told Red Sox fans both David Price and Craig Kimbrel would be used, they would have asked, “By how many runs did the Red Sox lose?” Price had a career 5.42 postseason ERA and Kimbrel had allowed runs in all four appearances this postseason.

Price, contrary to the narrative, pitched excellently. He spun six shutout innings, limiting the Astros to three hits while walking none and striking out nine on 93 pitches. The only other postseason appearance he had in which he tossed at least four scoreless innings in the playoffs was in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Astros last year when he was used in relief. It was by far his most successful playoff start.

The difference was his change-up. According to Brooks Baseball, Price used his change-up 22 percent of the time. He threw 19 total change-ups out of his 122 pitches (15.6%) in his previous two playoff starts, per MLB.com’s Andrew Simon. In Game 5, he threw 38 change-ups (41%).

Of Price’s nine strikeouts, five were finished with the change-up, sending Astros hitters chasing. Springer in the first, Correa and Gonzalez in the fourth, Kemp in the fifth, and Altuve in the sixth. Astros hitters made contact with only 12 of those 38 change-ups and they had an average exit velocity of 72 MPH — quite weak. Eight were fouled off and four were put in play for outs.

Price clearly found something that worked, but his change-up can’t become a crutch. Whichever team, between the Dodgers and Brewers, meets up with the Red Sox will do their due diligence, poring over Price’s start against the Astros pitch-by-pitch. Price did it once successfully. Now he has to do it again, this time in the World Series.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.