The Boston Red Sox have named David Price as their starting pitcher for Game 2 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros despite his ALDS struggles.
I was ready to throw in the towel on the David Price postseason experience. As a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen, sure. We saw him thrive in that role last October. But as a starting pitcher in the playoffs? I had seen enough. Apparently, the Boston Red Sox have not and will give Price another opportunity to change our minds.
Manager Alex Cora revealed on MLB Network that Price will start Game 2 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
The first question I asked was, why? That was quickly followed by the uneasy feeling of wondering who else?
We know the drill with Price. He’s 0-9 with a 6.18 ERA in his career as a starter in the postseason. He couldn’t make it out of the second inning in Game 2 against the New York Yankees, surrendering three runs to take the only loss of the series for the Red Sox pitching staff.
Yet Cora trusts him enough to give Price another shot. Is this insane? Possibly, although Cora has earned the benefit of the doubt with the masterful moves he made to outwit the Yankees in the ALDS. There are also reasons to find a sliver of optimism heading into this series with Houston.
Expectations were low for Price heading into his start against the Yankees. Not only because of his postseason track record but also based on how the Yankees have treated him like a punching bag this season. The Bronx Bombers simply aren’t a good matchup for the lefty.
The Astros have an imposing lineup in their own right but at least Price has held his own against them. He logged a quality start by pitching six innings with three runs allowed and seven strikeouts to earn a win in Houston back in June. Price faced the Astros again last month at Fenway, tossing 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts.
We also can’t forget how Price dominated this Astros lineup over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in last year’s ALDS. Granted, that was spread over two appearances out of the bullpen.
It’s still not unreasonable to believe that Price can give the Red Sox five innings that are decent enough to keep their powerful lineup in the game.
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It’s not as if the Red Sox are overflowing with better options. Rick Porcello was outstanding in his five innings to help close out the Yankees in Game 4 to earn his first career postseason win. He’s been mediocre against Houston this year though with a 4.50 ERA over two starts and he lasted only three innings in his start against them last postseason. Nathan Eovaldi faced Houston once this year as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, giving up four runs over six innings in a loss.
In case you were wondering about the option of replacing Price in the rotation with Eduardo Rodriguez, allow me to throw a bucket of cold water on that concept. E-Rod was shelled for five runs in 3 1/3 innings when he faced the Astros this season. He also was charged for two runs without recording an out in his only appearance in last year’s postseason.
Chris Sale will take the mound in Game 1 but he can’t start four times in the series. They’ll need to win a game or two without their ace if they hope to advance to the World Series. Nobody should feel good about Price starting another playoff game but Cora is left with few viable options.
Price’s track record against Houston is much better than it is against New York, so he has that going for him. Cora trusts him and he has rarely steered us wrong this season.