Red Sox: What if David Price didn’t win Game 5 of ALCS?
Boston Red Sox starter delivers masterful performance en route to winning his first major league start – what if he didn’t get the win?
The Boston Red Sox advanced to the World Series after eliminating the Houston Astros in five games. No other performance mattered more than that of David Price who was able to secure his first win as a starter. Finally, after 12 starts, Price was able to register the win and no cheap win at that.
Coming close in his first appearance, missing out by 1/3rd of inning, Price roared back by pitching six solid shutout innings while allowing just three hits and striking out nine, a new playoff career high. Price was for the lack of a better term, exceptional.
The Astros waltzed into this series with a huge edge in rotational strength and overall bullpen. Where they suffered was in the closing department and overall offense. How did Boston win? By pounding Houston with back-to-back eight-run games.
Back to Game 5 for a second. If Price loses this game, he may not get another chance before the series comes to a close. Why? With the best starter on the Sox staff in Chris Sale not well dealing with a stomach ailment, the team needed every mid-series win possible. How did the Sox respond? After dropping the first game, the Sox went off for four straight wins to seal the series.
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Before his 12th start, Price was 0-9 in 11 career starts in the playoffs. Why else is that tough? Justin Verlander was pitching Game 5 and had been nothing short of flawless in his last three postseason starts. Since 2017 and joining Houston, Verlander was 5-1 in his last 7 starts allowing no more than two earned runs in any start except for one. He’s superb when duty calls.
With Price on a see-saw historically in the playoffs, Price would continue his legacy as being one of the highest paid best regular season starters period. Getting $30 million a year for the first 162 games and hopefully 30-32 starts, a potential average of $1 million per start, you would expect him to be a lockdown pitcher in the postseason. Until 2018, that has NEVER been the case. How does this affect the future?
David Price Contract – ’19 through ’22 – four more years at $127 million
Price is still owed over $120 million through 2022 unless, he opts out after the 2018 season. Could Price opt out in the hopes of making an even more lucrative contract going forward? Would Price throw away more guaranteed money over the course of the next four seasons in hopes of getting less annually but a couple more years tacked onto his contract? Unlikely. Unless, Price pitches out of his mind during the World Series.
Price is capable of throwing down for a big time in game performance. We saw it against the Astros, arguably the toughest challenge the Red Sox have had to face so far in the postseason. Are the Dodgers at the same level as Houston? Not quite. Price will excel in the games facing the National League in their parks. Why? Price doesn’t have to face nine batters in the lineup, he only has to face eight. The 9th should be a gimme.
I fully anticipate and expect Price to get 10+ strikeouts in a game vs the Dodgers if he were the pitcher in Game 3, 4, or 5. Does he get that chance? Depending on what happens with Sale, Price would pitch Games 2 and 6. Maybe, just maybe, you could get Price to pitch Game 5 on four days rest. That would eliminate the opportunity to start back in Boston. Why would that be unfortunate? Because Price was absolutely lockdown in Boston this year.
Price went 9-2 with a 2.98 ERA and registered a complete game in 16 games started. Price also allowed only 11 home runs in home starts and managed 95 strikeouts in 96 innings of work. Not bad by any means. 7-1 in his last 12 starts registering a 2.41 ERA in that time while also registering 76 punch outs in that time. In the month of August alone, Price had a 2.10 ERA while going 3-0 in five starts and registered 33 K’s in 30 innings of work.
Price opt in or opt out?
There is a chance that regardless of how Price pitches, it could change his mindset. Why wouldn’t he want a chance to make more money in the long run? Yes, he could potentially flush $30+ million a year from 2020 through 2022 down the drain but wouldn’t it make sense to sign another 5-7 year contract with $25-28 million guaranteed annually? Certainly! Of course, that is a long shot but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched if Price is lights out over the course of the next seven games.
If Price indeed has a spectacular World Series performance, it would not be entirely surprising to see him walk in the interest of getting more money. If Price can help bring the 9th World Series Title to Boston, anything is possible and teams will be calling. It would put the Red Sox in a direct tie with the Oakland A’s with the 3rd most titles behind the Cardinals with 11 and that other team with a couple more than that, insert sarcastic smirk here.
With the major challenge of dealing with the Houston Astros now behind the boys from Bean Town, taking care of business against the Dodgers will be a mere formality. This is the team to beat in 2018.
*Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Price started Game 4 rather than Game 5. We apologize for any confusion.