Today I’d like to talk to you about David Price’s history in the postseason. I can already sense the comment section heating up, but before you get ready to lob your digital tomatoes, please give me a moment. Price has clearly had trouble in the playoffs. In 73 1⁄3 career innings, including eight starts, he has posted a 5.03 ERA. Nothing in the following paragraphs is going to make that look better.
His work with the Red Sox in this area hasn’t been stellar, especially when he was lit up for five runs in 3 1⁄3 innings in the 2016 ALDS. But, for a brief stretch in October a year ago, Price was dominant. He didn’t start, that’s true, but as a long reliever, he dazzled. He threw 2 2⁄3 innings of shutout ball against the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros in game two of the ALDS and then came in during game three and fired four more scoreless innings in the Sox’s only win during that series.
Right now, no pitcher on the roster is pitching better than Price. In the absence of Chris Sale, Price has climbed back up to the summit of Ace Mountain. The last time he was pitching like this during the stretch run was in 2015 when he was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Toronto Blue Jays. He went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 87 strikeouts across 74 1⁄3 innings with Toronto, which pushed the Kansas City Royals (the eventual World Series champs) to six games in the ALCS. Price didn’t help much, posting a 6.17 ERA in four starts, including a game six loss in the ALCS.
That year, he entered the postseason after having thrown 220 1⁄3 innings between the Tigers and Blue Jays. The year before that he racked up a league-high 248 1⁄3 innings. Somehow after that 2014 workload he threw eight innings of two-run ball in his only start of the playoffs. Still, when he entered the postseason with Toronto, he had logged a ton of innings on his arm, which he only added to by throwing a league-high 230 frames with Boston in 2016.
Arm fatigue doesn’t come close to excusing a pitcher of Price’s caliber. He’s supposed to eat a ton of innings in the regular season and add many more on in the playoffs. But 200 innings in three-straight years (not to mention three of the previous four) has to wear on an arm, even one as strong as Price’s.
This year, Price is still pitching a full workload, but the Sox are being smarter with resting pitchers. With 100 wins and a postseason bid already in the bag, they have asked Price to throw 165 2⁄3 innings, including last night’s sparkling seven innings against Toronto. He probably isn’t going to eclipse 200 innings before September is over, which will give him more in the tank when the games matter even more. That’s not even remotely enough to completely erase his postseason demons, but if there were ever a postseason in which Price was set up to chase them away, its this one.
Price, who just pitched another brilliant game for the Red Sox, is well aware of his postseason struggles. (Adam London; NESN)
Speaking of Price, called third strikes have been his ... ahem ... calling card this year. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
The Red Sox are in the postseason. (Yay!) But they aren’t 100 percent healthy. (Not yay!). How can they best optimize their health before the postseason? (Jen McCaffrey; The Athletic) ($$)
We only got to see Chris Sale for one inning on Tuesday. Let’s look at what’s ahead. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)
Sale is at least optimistic despite such an abbreviated return. (Chris Cotillo; MassLive)