David Price Shows Tigers His True Ace Value in Gutsy Debut vs. Yankees

Jason CataniaMLB Lead WriterAugust 6, 2014

Kathy Willens/AP Images

In making his Detroit Tigers debut official, David Price did his thing on Tuesday night. While he didn't pick up a win in his first start with his new club after being the key get in a three-team blockbuster deal completed just before last week's July 31 trade deadline, Price pitched 8.2 strong innings to help the Tigers beat the New York Yankees on the road, 4-3, in 12 innings.

The 2012 Cy Young Award winner surrendered a pair of home runs—his 21st and 22nd allowed, tying him for third most in baseball on the season—but otherwise, Price was his usual dominant self, allowing three runs on just six other hits while walking none against 10 strikeouts.

Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in a deal that sent lefty Drew Smyly, infielder Nick Franklin and prospect Willy Adames to the Rays and former Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson to the Seattle Mariners, Price registered double-digit strikeouts without giving up a walk for the fifth time of 2014. That's the most such outings in the sport.

Most Starts with 10+ K's and 0 BBs (2014)
David PriceRays/Tigers5
Chris SaleWhite Sox3
Felix HernandezMariners3
Corey KluberIndians2
Zack GreinkeDodgers2
Johnny CuetoReds2
Jose FernandezMarlins2
Baseball Reference

What's more, Price pitched at least seven innings for the 19th time this year, which is incredible not only because that, too, is the most in the majors, but also because he's done it nearly 80 percent of the time.

In other words, when the 28-year-old left-hander is on the mound, he's staying there, almost no matter what.

That's especially key for a Tigers team that continues to battle through bullpen problems. Entering Tuesday, Detroit's relievers were sporting a collective 4.53 ERA, nearly a full run worse than the MLB average (3.57) and the third worst in the majors. 

Because the late innings have been such a mess so far, getting length from the five-man rotation is paramount to Detroit's success going forward. That includes both winning the AL Central for the fourth straight season and embarking on a long run come October.

Worst Bullpen ERAs in MLB (Through Aug. 4)
White Sox4.3326

Thanks to Price, the relievers didn't have much opportunity to muck things up on Tuesday. Price exited in the ninth with two outs, one on and Martin Prado at the dish, fresh off of homering and doubling off of him.

That's when former Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain struck out Prado on his way to throwing 1.1 scoreless innings before turning things over to fellow setup man Joakim Soria—the Tigers' other recent big acquisition—who got the ball to Joe Nathan to close out the win in the 12th.

That trio of bullpen arms has the most late-game experience for Detroit, so it's only fitting that it polished off Price's first effort with a win after he did his part by pitching into the ninth.

The Tigers obviously would take this type of combination—and result—from Price and the pen every time he toes the rubber.

Price was excited for his debut, tweeting the following earlier on Tuesday:

Of his new team and new teammates, Price said before the game that he "just wants to fit in...and be one of the guys here," per MLB.com. If his first outing is any indication, Price won't have any problem doing just that.

Then again, it isn't easy to fit in and be one of the guys in Detroit, where baseball's best rotation consists of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander—former Cy Young winners themselves, in 2013 and 2011, respectively—as well as Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello.

And now Price, too. Officially.


Statistics are accurate through Aug. 5 and come from MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, except where otherwise noted.

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11