ST. PETERSBURG -- David Price had a great 2010, finishing second in the American League Cy Young voting after winning 19 games. But 2012 has been even better for the lefty, raising the question:
Is he in line to win the award this year?
"I just think that this year is a little different with David," manager Joe Maddon said. "I think he's actually pitched better this year than then. Looking at all the different candidates and the consistent body of work that he's [put] out there. ... I definitely believe he's the front runner."
Price's numbers are certainly worthy. His 2.28 ERA is the best in the Majors, ahead of Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (2.44) and Detroit's Justin Verlander (2.50).
He also has 16 wins, which puts him in a four-way tie at the top of the Majors as of Thursday afternoon. Truth be told, he should have at least a couple more wins under his belt. In two of his last four starts, he went eight innings without allowing a run, but Tampa Bay lost both contests, each 1-0, after the offense provided no run support.
In two other starts -- on July 4 against the Yankees and on May 26 start against the Red Sox -- Price threw seven innings and allowed just a run, but the bullpen couldn't come through in games the Rays eventually lost.
Though he trails five pitchers when it comes to the most strikeouts in the AL (including teammate James Shields), he has a chance to match his career high, 218, having amassed 167 to date.
"The guy is so prepared, and he cares," Maddon said. "Every time he goes out there, he gives us a chance to win. I feel really good about what he's doing, and of course he does. I feel, looking down the road, maintaining the same level that he's performing at, he should win [the award]."