Red Sox lefty David Price can beat playoff teams after all
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox left-handed pitcher David Price continued his spectacular run with a win over the playoff-bound Cleveland Indians.
It turns out that David Price can still perform well against good competition. He may never live up to the outrageous standards set by the lucrative contract the Boston Red Sox handed him yet even his harshest critics have to be impressed by Price’s latest performance.
The lefty fired eight shutout innings against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday to pick up his 14th win of the season. That ties him for sixth in the league in wins while trailing only Rick Porcello on the team. Price allowed only three hits without a walk and struck out seven on an efficient 101 pitches.
As much as some fans want to dump on Price for a few miserable outings, he’s been very good for most of the season. His latest gem lowers his ERA to 3.50, which ranks 11th among qualified American League starters. He’s striking out a tick below a batter per inning and has done a solid job of limiting walks.
Price has been among the best pitchers in baseball since the All-Star break, posting a 4-0 record and 1.09 ERA over his last six starts.
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The knock on Price, despite this success, is that he couldn’t get the job done against elite teams. Of those six starts, half of them came against the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay Rays. None of them will sniff a playoff spot and they don’t exactly have powerhouse lineups.
He held the Philadelphia Phillies to one run over eight innings at the end of July. The Phillies are still in the mix for the NL East division title or a Wild Card spot but if the season ended today they’d be on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. Fans didn’t want to give him credit for that one. Philadelphia isn’t a playoff team so it doesn’t count.
Then Price exercised his demons against the New York Yankees. The team that lit him up twice this year. The nightmare that he was supposedly terrified to face. Price held them to only two runs over six innings. Again, his critics didn’t want to admit the praise he deserved. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were on the shelf for that series so Price’s success was due to facing a depleted lineup. The Red Sox would go on to win that game but only after Price was out of the game. He wasn’t credited with the win so it doesn’t count.
That’s the same ignorant argument people make when claiming Price can’t perform in the postseason. Price tossed eight innings of two-run ball in the 2014 ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles (yes, the O’s once had a great lineup and were a legitimate playoff team, trust me). Only his team lost 2-1 so it doesn’t count. Price has two career postseason wins but both came in relief. He pitched 6 2/3 innings out of the bullpen last year. He’s still searching for his first postseason win as a starting pitcher though so those other outstanding performances don’t count.
He’s had a few stink bombs in big moments throughout his career – most pitchers have. Why are those low points the only ones he’s remembered for? Price has produced excellent performances in big moments before yet his critics can only make up excuses for why his achievements don’t count.
They can no longer make that argument after Price blanked the Indians. He dominated a lineup led by MVP candidates Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. Two of the league’s top stars were a combined 0-for-6 against Price. He earned the win over a team bound for the playoffs. It was a win the Red Sox needed in order to even the series – imagine the outcry if Boston dropped three out of four at home with Price losing the series finale. The lefty was up to the challenge.
Yes, I know. Let’s see what happens in October. There are those who won’t be satisfied until Price throws a shutout against another elite team… and it has to be a no-hitter… in the World Series. Maybe then he’ll get the credit he deserves.