Red Sox: Resurgence of $217 million man David Price
By Cody Collins
David Price’s Red Sox career has been filled with controversy and failed expectations. However, the lefty has finally found his groove.
When the Boston Red Sox signed David Price to a massive 7-year, $217 million contract, every fan had expectations of the ace that had dominated the AL East for years. Price, now with his third team in two years, struggled to settle in. He has endured heavy criticism and has been a cause of controversy in the eyes of the media. Despite all of this, it looks like Price is back.
In 2016, Price posted numbers that he had not seen in a long time. He had his highest ERA since 2009, most hits given up since 2014, most walks since 2012, and most earned runs and home runs allowed in his career.
Price was visibly upset throughout every outing and Red Sox Nation grew restless. In addition to the troubling numbers, Price’s velocity was down. As an established power pitcher, Price was not able to blow a high 80’s / low 90’s fastball by hitters in the tough AL East.
"“I didn’t command my fastball. Whenever I’m going well, it doesn’t matter where you put your glove, I hit it. If I missed, it was by an inch or two. It wasn’t by 6 inches,” Price said. “I was over the plate too much. When hitters can sit on mistakes, that makes it tough.” – David Price via Boston Globe"
When the 2017 season began, Price was in the dugout – a spectator. After receiving positive news that Tommy John surgery was not needed, Price began focused on a rehab assignment. The numbers weren’t great and Sox fans were skeptical. Would Price be able to return to form? Nobody knew and many fans doubted him.
Former Vanderbilt teammate, Sonny Gray, didn’t doubt Price.
"“He’s a competitive guy, and as his friend it can get frustrating at times. He wants to win at everything on a daily basis,” Gray said. “I’ve never seen anybody as successful when he challenges himself as David. That’s how he’s geared. I don’t have any doubt Boston will see that.” – Sonny Gray via Boston Globe"
Throughout his 2017 season, he has posted a 3.39 ERA and has been a source of production on the mound. His stuff has been sharp and his velocity has been much improved. Even in his first few starts, when he gave up more runs, it wasn’t a poor performance. It was usually just one, or two bad pitches that were capitalized on – which good teams do.
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The problem for Price was his control. He had sharp stuff, but struggled to command both sides of the plate with consistency. The control has improved, as exemplified in an 8 inning shutout of the Yankees. Price pounded the inside corner, resulting in his best outing of the season.
Despite the success on the mound, Price has endured plenty of criticism. Following a poor outing against the Yankees, Price had a meltdown with the media. In addition to this outburst, he had a confrontation with NESN play-by-play and Hall of Famer, Dennis Eckersely. On the field has been much improved, but his relationship with the media has been tense – at best. Price has established himself as a leader in the clubhouse, but must keep a level-head in the face of the Boston media.
Though Price has received heavy criticism, he has responded by performing on the mound. He has not had a start in which he allowed more than 3 runs since June 8th and since then, has posted a 2.66 ERA. He’s starting to look like the ace that terrorized the AL East for years.
The emergence of Price is absolutely critical for the Red Sox to sustain long-term success. They are in a competitive race with the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Yankees, for first place in the East. With the offense struggling, it is even more important for the pitching staff to carry the weight.
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When Price screamed in jubilation, after striking out Matt Holliday, the rest of Sox nation joined him. David Price is back and will look to fuel the Red Sox to the postseason – where he will look to prove doubters wrong again.