The Red Sox pitching staff will finally be at full health in 2018, but what can we expect from David Price?
It has been over two years since David Price signed a lucrative seven-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox.
The deal has been questioned on both ends. “Why would Price sign in Boston when he clearly does not like the city?” “Why would Boston shell out $200 million for a pitcher in his 30’s?” But with year three of the deal approaching ever so quickly, the chatter is finally quiet. Price can finally pitch, and be himself in 2018.
Why is that? Well his stint as a long-relief pitcher in 2017 earned him legend status in Boston. Many believe that Price disappears in the postseason, but this year, he was money out of the bullpen.
He repeatedly came in, and slammed the door shut on Red Sox opponents. This year, he was the definition of clutch. The elbow issues are something that resurfaced in 2017, but the Price we saw late in the year is enough to show that they might be in the past.
However, the real test will come in 2018, which could determine the remaining arc of Price’s career.
Price, who is owed a whopping AAV of $31 million through 2022 has an opt out clause after this upcoming season. That is a lot of money for a guy to come out of the bullpen, so Price will be back to a full-time starter this year.
His first two seasons in Boston, have been better than the average Red Sox fan would tell you. The Boston media has shredded Price from his first season in a Red Sox jersey. The off field incident with Dennis Eckersley this season did not help matters.
But what can we expect to see from Price this year?
When Price has toed the rubber in Boston, he has been a very good pitcher.
In 51 appearances over the last two years, Price is 23-12, with a 3.84 ERA. That is not worth the $31 million, but it is still serviceable for the Red Sox.
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Price will have a full offseason in Boston, and assuming he suffers no injuries, he will be fully healthy to train, and get back into Cy Young form.
Why is it not crazy to think Price can excel this year? Mainly because there is not much pressure on him to carry the pitching staff as he was expected to in 2016. The Red Sox signed Price to be a workhorse in 2016, but Rick Porcello ended up being fantastic for Boston. Not many believe he is capable of that again.
Price will be the number two starter on the Opening Day roster, if healthy. But now, the Red Sox have two other pitchers that can eat up innings in Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. Price will not need to pitch 210 innings this year.
Also, we all know what kind of competitor that Price is. Having Sale in the rotation to push him every day will be great for him.
It was easy to see this year that Price’s stuff was there. He was hitting 95+ when he was in the groove. He had the confidence that he had back when he was in Tampa Bay. Alex Cora will manage his innings early on, meaning he will be more fresh in the postseason.
I am fully expecting Price to bounce back this year, make 28+ starts, and have an ERA of 3.50 or less. If he can turn into the old David Price, Boston will be in the thick of things in the AL.