There are many excellent pitchers plying their trade on this Fourth of July. Studs like Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum go today while upstarts like Tommy Hanson and Edwin Jackson pitch tonight amidst much praise and attention. But one match up in particular grabbed my attention: David Price versus Derek Holland.
Despite the mountain of hype that followed Price into the 2009 season, he started the year in the minor leagues. Since his recall and insertion into the rotation, his performance could be charitably defined as "mixed." Astronomical pitch counts resulting from poor control, Price has pitched 7 complete innings just once. Over 9 strikeouts per nine innings is good, but more than 6 walks per 9 is terrible. Add in too many line drives, too many home runs and simply a lack of strikes are causing Price to underperform. Only the Rays superlative defense keeps his ERA far below his FIP.
Derek Holland eluded my roving eye in the preseason, but after making a few relief appearances he's stepped into the vastly improved Texas rotation. His 1-5 record and his FIP near 5 may not get your attention, but Holland has all the markings of a future stud. His strong walk to K rate and good mix of pitches both point to positive results down the road, while his high BABIP and home run rate are sure to come down.
Both these young dudes (Price 23, Holland 22) are just getting their feet wet at the major league level and getting a feel for their secondary pitches (people are doing terrible things to each man's slider)but they're sure to feature prominently in the future. Better yet, they're only small parts of two franchises with very, very bright futures. Organizations that stockpiled prospects, focussed on internal improvement keying on defense, power, and pitching. Tonight could be the first of many showdowns between these two stud pitchers on an increasingly big stage. Consider me excited.
Lithe Lefty in Chief photo courtesy of Hand Research Dot Com. Naturally.