David Price finishes top-five in Cy Young voting
How it could happen:
Red Sox fans have been quick to label Price a bust two years into his massive $217 million deal. While he hasn’t lived up to his salary, Price’s issues are a bit overblown.
The 3.99 ERA he posted in his first year with the Red Sox would make many pitchers envious. For Price, it was a huge letdown coming off a season in which he led the league with a 2.45 ERA to finish second on the Cy Young ballot.
Was his 2016 season really that bad? He still won 17 games and led the league in innings pitched. A rocky start while Price acclimated to his new environment stained his season numbers. He was shelled for 5+ runs in four of his first seven starts. He followed that by losing three consecutive games in June despite producing a quality start in each, with at least seven innings and no more than three runs allowed. That left him with an 8-4 record and 4.52 ERA in mid-June, creating a perception of futility that he never overcame.
Dig deeper and we find that Price did turn things around. He went 13-8 with a 3.39 ERA from mid-May through the end of the regular season. Those figures aren’t far off from his career rates. He was among the elite pitchers for most of the season, we just didn’t notice because of the hole he dug himself into.
Price entered last season with a troubling elbow issue. He wouldn’t debut until the end of May. He went 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts before he was shut down again. Those aren’t ace-caliber numbers, although that can at least partially be chalked up to the elbow injury.
A September return out of the bullpen proved Price’s velocity was back and he regained his masterful control over each of his pitches. He didn’t allow a run over 8 2/3 innings to wrap up the regular season. Price followed that by erasing his postseason demons by tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the ALDS.
If that success as a reliever translates to his return to the rotation then Price should bounce back to being one of the league’s top pitchers.