Red Sox Postseason: Five biggest questions heading into ALDS vs Yankees
By Sean Penney
Can the starting rotation earn a win?
This narrative will continue to haunt the Red Sox until it changes course. Boston is expected to roll with a four-man rotation in the ALDS, none of whom have ever won a playoff game as a starting pitcher.
You know the deal with David Price. Great regular season resume but he can’t win in the postseason. That’s not entirely true and wildly unfair yet his critics will continue to harp on it. Price is 2-8 in the postseason with both wins coming as a reliever. His 5.03 ERA and 1.21 WHIP are higher than you’d expect from a pitcher of his caliber.
It’s true that Price has had a few meltdowns in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean he can’t perform in October. In fact, he has. He held the Baltimore Orioles to two runs over eight innings in the 2014 ALDS. He didn’t get the win but why is that his fault? He pitched well enough to earn one. Price was brilliant in last year’s postseason, tossing 6 2/3 shutout innings over two appearances. Who cares if those innings came out of the bullpen? He’s far from the most consistent guy in the playoffs but Price is clearly capable of handling the postseason pressure.
A win in Game 2 against the Yankees would go a long way toward shifting how fans view Price.
While none of them garner the attention that Price does for the lack of wins, the rest of the rotation lacks a winning track record in the playoffs.
Rick Porcello hasn’t been any better than Price, posting a 0-3 record and 5.47 ERA in his postseason career. He hasn’t made it through five innings in either of his starts in the postseason with the Red Sox.
Nathan Eovaldi seems likely to get the start in Game 4. He’s pitched well against the Yankees this year but he’s never pitched in the postseason before.
Chris Sale made his postseason debut last year with the Red Sox after spending the first seven seasons of his career with a Chicago White Sox team that sat at home every October. The results weren’t great. He made one start and one relief appearance, getting tagged with the loss both times while allowing nine earned runs over 9 2/3 innings against the Houston Astros.
It’s a small sample size and Sale is too talented to not bounce back. However, he dealt with shoulder issues for most of the second half and saw a concerning dip in velocity as he worked up his pitch count down the stretch. If Chris Sale isn’t quite Chris Sale against this Yankees lineup then the Red Sox are in trouble.