Red Sox should move David Price to the bullpen in playoffs
The Boston Red Sox are all but certain to make the playoffs, and very likely will end up with the American League’s best record, giving themselves home-field advantage throughout their hopeful World Series run.
While they are without a doubt the alpha-dog of the 2018 regular season, the postseason has proven over the years to be a completely different animal. With that being said, every team is going to be looking for a creative way to separate themselves from the pack and add some reinforcement to their team.
We’ve seen teams do some quirky things like the Royals adding Terrance Gore to their roster in 2015 for the purposes of only being a pinch-runner and we’ve also seen Clayton Kershaw (2017) and Madison Bumgarner (2014) record the final outs of series as the closers for their respective teams.
Well, my suggestion for the Red Sox is much more in line with the latter. That idea would be to move David Price to the bullpen for the entirety of the playoffs.
On the surface, people probably see this suggestion as preposterous, given he is one of the team’s better starting pitchers and is in the third year of a seven-year, $217 million contract. He is also having a solid season as he currently has a 12-6 record to go along with a 3.75 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 134 strikeouts in 23 starts (134 1/3 innings).
However, it is not nearly as crazy of an idea as it might appear.
Well, for starters, the Red Sox rotation, even without Price, can more than hold its own in the postseason, especially in the ALDS, as they could go with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Nathan Eovaldi.
As for the ALCS and World Series, the team could slide Eduardo Rodriguez or Steven Wright in, assuming they return at some point in the next two months, or place Drew Pomeranz back in the rotation if he can ever work through his struggles to find the dominance he had in 2017.
Rodriguez is the preferable and most plausible option as he had a lowly 3.44 ERA and an 11-3 record in 19 starts before going down with an ankle injury at the end of July.
If he were to return, it could be argued he is a better option for the rotation than David Price, especially when you factor in Price’s immense struggles in the postseason over the course of his career.
For his career, the 32-year-old has a 2-8 record and 5.03 ERA in 17 games (nine starts), including a 2015 postseason where he was the “ace” of the Toronto Blue Jays’ pitching, but allowed 16 runs in 23 1/3 innings.
What was the one postseason he was successful, though? 2008, when he was a rookie with the Tampa Bay Rays and was a reliever for the entirety of it.
In that postseason, where he helped bring them to the World Series, the lefty allowed only one earned run (two runs total) in 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight batters.
I’m aware that time period is over a decade ago now and things have certainly changed since then. On top of it, I am also understanding that we are talking about a somewhat small sample size when talking about his postseason struggles.
However, if the rotation can withstand his departure (which I believe it most certainly can if Rodriguez were able to nab a spot), then it could be very beneficial for the Red Sox to use Price as a super-reliever.
Price could take a role similar to that of Brad Peacock with the Houston Astros. Once a starter gets to the third time around the order, Price can start warming up, with the intention of using him if the starter wears down, which could certainly happen with a pitcher like Eovaldi. That would make Price almost like a secret weapon that the team could employ in mid-to-late game situations.
This would allow the team to skip over the shakier middle-relief corps and go straight from Price to the bread-and-butter fo the bullpen in Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel.
Another factor to consider is that the team really doesn’t have an ideal lefty-specialist at the moment. Pomeranz currently resides in the bullpen, but with a 6.34 ERA this season and a .306 average against same-handed opponents, he is right now not only a bad option for that role, but probably should be left off the postseason roster entirely.
Brian Johnson could also be used in that role, and he has done an admirable job as a swingman this season, but it couldn’t hurt to have two left-handers of quality in the bullpen.
Price, for his career, is also very effective against left-handers with a .227 average against, which would make him useful in that role. Obviously, he would not be used as a typical lefty-specialist, coming in for multiple innings at a time.
David Price might be one of the team’s best starting pitchers, but if the Boston Red Sox want to give themselves an extra boost, this is one way to do it.