By: Kenny Doyle
Wednesday night, David Price walked off the mound to the cheers of the Fenway faithful after pitching an absolute masterpiece. He was unhittable. He pitched like the player the Red Sox thought they were getting 2 years ago when they paid him $217 million. He pitched like an ace.
It just would’ve been nice if it was for longer than 1 and ⅓ innings in relief.
Yes, the $217 million dollar man has been reduced to a role as a reliever since returning from a lengthy DL stint earlier this month. Fans started calling for Price to be used as the Andrew Miller of the Red Sox in the postseason, which felt like a massive overreach. Expecting Price to duplicate one of the best postseason pitching runs in recent MLB history is an absurd ask. The Red Sox weren’t even sure if Price was healthy enough to return at all a month ago, nevermind be their version of Andrew Miller. It wouldn’t have been at all surprising if Price came back and was awful.
Well, since returning Price has pitched a total of 6 innings and hasn’t given up a single run. In 2 of his 3 outings, Price hasn’t even given up a hit. He looks great. It looks like he’s healthy enough to pitch after all. He doesn’t appear to be having any issues on the mound since his return. With 3 successful outings under his belt, there’s no reason to hold him back from his starting role any longer.
David Price is a starting pitcher. At some point, he’s going to have to return to that role. He’s not going to stay a middle reliever forever. If he’s healthy enough to be pitching in relief, he’s healthy enough to be starting. Right now the Red Sox 3rd start for the postseason rotation is a mystery with just 3 games left in the regular season. That is not a good sign for a team that is hoping to make a World Series run. So, why not role with David Price? There’s an obvious answer from the Price haters, 0-8.
Yes, 0-8. AKA David Price’s record as a starter in the playoffs. Price’s lack of October success has been one of the most talked about stories since he first put on a Red Sox jersey. In a city where the teams are competing against each other for championships, the postseason is all that matters. Price seems to let his nerves get the best of him in the postseason. Ever since his famous quote comparing himself to a duck during the Toronto Blue Jays 2015 playoff run, the story just won’t go away, but this postseason would be a whole lot different from David Price’s past appearances.
In years past, Price’s teams have relied on him to be there ace. He’s been looked at as the leader of the staff. So in the postseason, the pressure is on for him to be great. If nerves are what’s getting the best of David Price in the postseason then this would be the best possible time for him to get the start. There would be no pressure on David Price for maybe the first time in his career. The Red Sox are not relying on him at all. He’d be pitching with house money. If he sucks, everyone expected him to. He has the excuse that he was never fully healthy and that he never should have been used that way. He doesn’t even have to be great, if he’s just good or decent it could be enough to get by. If there’s any situation best suited for David Price turn it around in the postseason, this would be it.
Price is clearly healthy enough to pitch at a high level. His last 3 outings have proved that. He looks ready to return to the starting rotation. As Guy Boston Sports Jake Perda wrote yesterday, the Red Sox aren’t looking like a true contender right now. They don’t look like they’re good enough to make a real run at a championship. Would another ace pitcher in the postseason rotation change the outlook for the Red Sox chances at a title? The answer is absolutely. If you still don’t want to see Price pitching for the Red Sox in the postseason because you’re one of the many many David Price haters amongst Red Sox nation, there’s another reason why Price should be starting in the postseason.
To this point, David Price’s 2 seasons with the Red Sox can be summed up in 3 words: A complete disaster. There’s no getting around that. Starving for an ace, the Red Sox went out and overshot the market by so much that David Price had no other choice but to sign with the Sox on a deal that at the time made him the highest paid pitcher in MLB history. However, that’s the very reason you have to give him the ball in the postseason. With some of the Red Sox top players coming up in the next few years, they would be forced to rack up a massive payroll if they wanted to keep them in Boston. The $157 million left on Price’s contract makes that a lot harder.
Price’s opt out after year 3 is looking less and less fruitful for him since he’s now just a relief pitcher. There is no way anyone would pay Price more than what he would have left on his Red Sox deal, barring something miraculous. For example… helping lead the Red Sox to another World Series title.
Even just having one good start in the postseason would recoup David Price’s value. Even if you don’t believe it’s even possible for David Price to win a playoff game at this point, there’s nothing else that would recoup enough of his value in the 2018 free agency market. If you want David Price gone, the best way to do it is by giving him a chance to pitch this postseason. Whether Price is ready or not, the Red Sox chances of winning it all and getting rid of him are better if he’s in the postseason rotation this October.