David Price was a massive disappointment in the postseason once again. It’s time the Boston Red Sox stopped starting him in the playoffs.
I have been a David Price apologist since the day the Boston Red Sox signed him to a $217 million deal but I just can’t do it any more.
His critics harped on how his overall numbers since coming to Boston haven’t lived up to his hefty salary. I countered by saying those numbers were skewed by a few rough patches. He has still shown the ability to string together long stretches of ace-caliber performances, as he did in the second half of this season. Price has been blasted for never winning a postseason game as a starting pitcher. I pointed out examples of when he has pitched well in the playoffs only to be tagged with a tough-luck loss.
Price has let us down before but he’s been better than he’s given credit for. The upside is still there. This is what I kept telling myself leading up to Game 2 of the ALDS.
Following his latest meltdown, I’m done defending Price.
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The Red Sox were counting on Price to go deep into the game in order to avoid turning it over early to a bullpen that nearly blew Game 1. He couldn’t even make it out of the second inning.
Price allowed a home run to Aaron Judge in the first inning, setting the tone for a miserable outing only two batters into the game. Gary Sanchez took him deep to lead off the second inning. The long balls hurt but at least they were only solo shots. After getting the next pair of hitters to ground out there seemed to be a chance Price could shake off the homers and soldier on.
No such luck. Price walked the No. 8 and 9 hitters followed by an RBI base hit by Andrew McCutchen. Manager Alex Cora marched out to the mound like the disappointed parent of a child being sent home from school for bad behavior. He had seen enough.
We’ve all seen enough.
Price is now 0-9 in his career as a starting pitcher in the postseason. A fact that once seemed trivial now borders on ridiculous. Of the 70 pitchers in MLB history with 10+ career postseason starts, Price is the only one without a win to show for it. His ERA has inflated to 6.03 in his 10 playoff starts.
This is no longer a small sample size. This is simply who he is in October. The Red Sox can’t trust Price to lead them to victory in a playoff game.
If the Red Sox manage to regroup from this loss and fight back to win this best-of-five series, Price needs to be taken out of the rotation. Not off the roster. He still has the ability to help out of the bullpen but he can no longer be trusted to start a playoff game.
Perhaps they can experiment with the “opener” role that has become the latest craze across the majors. Let someone else set the tone over the first inning or two before sending in Price for a few innings. He showed last year that he can thrive in that role.
If they don’t get the opportunity to test this theory this year, there should get chances over the next four years before Price’s contract mercifully runs out. Unless of course he opts out this winter. Price has emphatically claimed he has no intention of exercising the opt-out clause in his contract but the backlash over his latest postseason failure could change his mind. Maybe he would be happier bolting to a team that has no playoff aspirations. He can’t disappoint anyone in October if his team doesn’t make it there. I hear the Baltimore Orioles could use a pitcher.
I feel like I’ve spent a significant amount of time over the last three years defending Price, making excuses for him and building a case for why he can still be an important factor on this team. Not anymore. I’m moving on from believing in Price and so should the Red Sox.