Red Sox vs. Indians Roster Breakdown: Starting rotation comparison
The Vice Ace
Dubbed as the next ace of the Red Sox for the next seven years upon signing a $217 million contract, Price didn’t exactly burst out of the gate in 2016. The lefty was one of baseball’s premier starting pitchers before shipping up to Boston, pitching to a 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9 between 2010 and 2015. He featured a blazing fastball that hovered around 95-96 MPH, one that he could cut or tail depending on the situation.
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But something was off when he arrived in a Red Sox uniform, as that same fastball dropped down to a 91-94 MPH range. The pinpoint control that he relied on to paint the corners was also diminished; Price would frequently leave pitches hanging over the plate, a dangerous maneuver without the velocity to back it up.
What resulted is a 3.99 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9. Price could still strike guys out, but now he was getting hit, hard. His HR/9 ballooned to 1.2, a career-high, as his BB/9 crept up to 2.0. These subtle peripherals added up to amount to what was ultimately a disappointing freshman year in Boston.
However, his most notable characteristic in his prior run of dominance was his ability to log 200+ innings in all but one of those seasons. If nothing else, that certainly carried north with him, as Price was able to throw 230 innings in 2016, only behind his 2014 campaign when he managed a whopping 248.1 innings. Even with a declined performance, those innings are plenty valuable, saving the bullpen from over-usage.
Perhaps at age 31 it’s unreasonable to assume Price will revert back to his prime self, but it’s not out of the question. And a marginal improvement in that direction wouldn’t surprise many people as the veteran looks to get back in Red Sox fans’ good graces.
Breaking out at age 27 in a 2014 campaign that saw him post a 2.55 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and a 9.4 K/9, Carrasco established himself into a legitimate No. 2 starter. The performance and talent is there; what’s holding him back is his inability to crack 200 innings. Over the past three seasons, the 29-year old has a 3.22 ERA but over just 464 innings – an average of 155 per year.
On a per-game basis, Carrasco is probably the safer option to a possibly-declining Price. But over a season, Price is still the more valuable pitcher. Even during his worst seasons in years, Price’s 230 innings of 3.99 ERA ball still held significant indirect value that overshadows 155 innings of 3.22 ERA ball.
Even if Price remains just as ineffective at limiting home runs and can’t harness his usual pinpoint control, the workload difference here is too much to overcome for Carrasco.
Advantage: Red Sox