Red Sox: David Price’s struggles leaves glaring hole in rotation

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: David Price
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: David Price /

If the lefty pitches poorly for Boston, the Red Sox are left with a gaping hole in their rotation that could derail championship aspirations.

David price wants 2018 to be different. He wants to dominate for the Red Sox on the mound, and he wants to be liked doing so.

Except when fluke injuries and excuses for poor play pile up on a $217 million pitcher who is supposed to be an ace, he’s not going to be well liked by many.

After dealing with the controversies last season — on and off the field — Price has followed this season with baffling, soft injuries and excuses for his bad performances. Price’s season has been nothing short of a roller coaster. He’s managed to finally get his ERA back under 5 (4.89), but holds a 3-4 record with multiple missed starts.

The Price mayhem started on April 11 when he left a game against the Yankees at Fenway Park after just one inning of pitching. The lefty gave up four runs in the first, and then appeared to be looking at his left hand after walking off the mound with concern. It was later deemed that he had a numbing sensation in his throwing hand, and couldn’t control where any of his pitches were going.

Panic set in, as Red Sox fans began wondering if Price had endured a serious injury that could alter his career.

However, manager Alex Cora got word from Boston’s medical staff that Price’s hand was fine and he should be ready to go for his next start.

The Red Sox held the southpaw out until April 18 when he made his return against the Angels. Price looked like his old self, allowing just one run, three hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings (78 pitches), as the Red Sox won 9-1.

Price’s next start was solid against the Athletics until he crumbled in the eighth inning, surrendering a three-run shot to Khris Davis. Price has failed to deliver in high leverage situations ever since he arrived in Boston. History suggests he’ll fail to come through when the moment presents itself.

The late-inning choke against the A’s would snowball into Price’s next two starts. He gave up five earned runs to the Rays in 5 2/3 innings, and nine — seven earned — to the Rangers over 3 2/3 innings. In so many words, Price claimed the fresh cut grass in Texas sparked his allergies, which played a part in his struggles.

Surely, Price would redeem himself with a heroic effort against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium?

No cigar. Price was scratched from his start with reoccurred numbness in his hand.

After a significant amount of tests on Price’s health, the lefty was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome from playing too much Fortnite. Yes. A multi-million dollar athlete couldn’t put down the controller to the point where he’s now injured himself.

On the contrary, Price was decent in his last start against the Blue Jays — albeit, on AstroTurf not freshly cut grass — but he managed to only allow two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings to earn the win.

However, this isn’t about whether Price should be liked or not. It’s become apparent that he can’t be relied on to pitch well for longer than two weeks without the Hypochondriac diagnosing himself with some fluke injury or excuse. Which begs the question.

What do the Red Sox really have behind Chris Sale in a playoff showdown with the Yankees, Astros or Indians?

Even if Price is healthy for his postseason start, the Red Sox have no idea what kind of performance he’ll turn in. Their supposed No. 2 starter, Price, has a 5.03 ERA in 73 1/3 postseason innings.

Another option could be Rick Porcello, who has pitched well this season. But buyer beware on penciling him in as the No. 2 starter. Porcello has given up five earned runs in consecutive outings, seeing his ERA jump to 3.28.

Let’s not forget, Porcello’s 2017 was abysmal. The righty posted a 4.65 ERA and allowed 38 home runs. Despite his hot start to 2018, let’s pump the brakes on assuming he’ll smoothly sail through the season with a sub-3 ERA as Boston’s second best pitcher.

Furthermore, Porcello’s uninspiring postseason ERA is 5.47 in 24 2/3 innings.

This isn’t great news for the Red Sox who saw their ace, Sale, get blasted last year in Houston during his first ever postseason start in the ALDS.

The Red Sox are left with a dark reality.

Even if Sale turns in a Cy Young effort and redeems himself in the postseason, the Red Sox could still fall flat on their face if Price is ineffective. Sale and Porcello isn’t enough to make a deep run in the postseason.

One could argue Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are capable of stepping up as a No. 3 behind Sale and Porcello, but both pitchers have had their share of health and consistency struggles. If the postseason were to start today, there aren’t many options on the pitching staff to feel very confident in.

Next: Red Sox vs Orioles Preview: Beating up on the birds

The season is still young. A lot can change between now and October, but one theme remains the same: The Red Sox need David Price as much as Price needs the Red Sox. It’ll never be a perfect marriage between the two, but the reality is the Red Sox can’t compete at a high level without Price. If he sinks, so does Boston’s chance at World Series title.