When the Boston Red Sox play the Seattle Mariners tonight, kicking off a four-game series in the city that brought us grunge music, the projected starting pitching matchup will be one of note. For Boston, David Price will take the hill. On the other side, Felix Hernandez will be throwing. Both are starters who were once at the very top of their professions, but are having less stellar campaigns this year.
Price has been much better, even if you don’t like his 4.00 and his slightly above average ERA+ of 109. Hernandez has been durable for sure, making 14 starts this season, but he is not the King Felix of old, with a 5.70 ERA and ERA+ of just 70. Its a reminder that time comes for every MLB career, even those of a guy like Hernandez, who had six top 10 Cy Young finishes between 2009 and 2015.
Speaking of Cy Young Awards, Price and Hernandez have tangled for the honor multiple times in their careers. The most competitive race between them came in 2010 when they finished first and second (Hernandez won) in voting. Hernandez only won 13 games that season, but the voters ignored that antiquated stat and rewarded him for leading the majors in starter ERA (2.27), innings pitched (249 2/3), batters faced (1,001) and hits per nine innings (7.0), not to mention his incredible ERA+ of 174. Price was pitching with the Rays at that point and had a strong season of his own. He had the more pleasant record (19-6) and added an ERA of 2.72 across 208 2⁄3 innings for a Rays team that went 96-66 and won the AL East.
Don’t feel too bad for Price. He only had to wait two more years to win his Cy Young, as he narrowly edged Justin Verlander for the honor in 2012. The lefty, still with the Rays, won 20 games and recorded an ERA of 2.56 in 211 innings. It was a pretty traditional-based win for the lefty, as he led the league in wins and ERA, but finished behind Verlander in a few of the other metrics, including ERA+ and WHIP. Jered Weaver of the Angels came in third that season and Hernandez came in fourth, throwing 232 innings with a 3.06 ERA and a perfectly strong ERA+ of 124.
Since Price won his Cy Young, he has finished among the top 10 in voting for the award twice, finishing sixth in 2014 and second in 2015 when he lost out to Dallas Keuchel despite posting a higher ERA+, more strikeouts and a lower ERA. Hernandez came in seventh that season, marking what might be his last appearance on a top 10 list for the honor. He came in fourth, eighth and second, respectively, in the three years prior.
While a Price/Hernandez duel isn’t the hype-inducing affair that it might have been five years ago, it should still be fun to see two of the best pitchers of the last decade face off.
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I’ll quote the article itself: “Brock Holt is good again.” (Cam Ellis; BP Boston)
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