Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price fanned 11 batters in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, thus becoming the first pitcher since Johan Santana in 2004 to record double-digit strikeouts in five consecutive starts, per MLB Stat of the Day.
Price was dominant throughout Wednesday's outing. He entered the ninth inning with 11 strikeouts and a 5-0 lead. Searching for his third complete game of the season, Price fell just a bit short, as he was removed with one out in the final frame after surrendering a solo home run to Pirates outfielder and reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen.
Price has put up some truly ridiculous numbers over his last five starts, highlighted by a 54:5 K:BB ratio. 10.8 strikeouts for every walk is an almost unthinkable number for most pitchers to post over a five-start stretch, yet the Tampa Bay lefty has a 144:14 K:BB ratio for the entire season, giving him 10.3 strikeouts for every base on balls.
Price owns a modest 3.63 ERA on the year, but he has posted a 2.27 mark over his last five starts. The recent stretch has pulled his ERA down by 0.64, as it previously sat at a surprisingly poor 4.27.
While unlucky in many regards, Price has done himself no favors by allowing an AL-high 17 home runs this season. With just 124 innings in the books, he's already surrendered more long balls than he did in either 2012 or 2013.
Despite his problems keeping the ball in the park, Price is shaping up as the hottest commodity on the market prior to the trade deadline. That was probably going to be the case no matter what, but a historic stretch of pitching can only heat things up.