I can’t believe I am saying this about a 33-year-old Cy Young winner who was drafted first overall, but I truly think David Price’s start against the Yankees on Wednesday might be one of the most important regular-season starts of his 11-year career. Sure, the Red Sox have a playoff spot locked up, are on the verge of their third AL East crown in a row and Price has said as recently as last week that the regular season means nothing to him, per WEEI. So why does a start that doesn’t appear to matter all that much feel this important?
Price is in the midst of the most dominant stretch of his Red Sox career. He’s also approaching a contract decision that could alter the direction of Boston’s pitching staff for the next few years. It feels like he’s holding all the cards for the first time since he got to Boston. What a perfect time for a matchup in the Bronx with the second-place Yankees with a chance to clinch the division on the line no less! And then he’s got the postseason to look forward to — what a treat!
I just have a feeling that there’s nothing Price wants to do more than shut up all those people who have told him he wasn’t worth $217 million for the last three years. That’s fine, David. We need you to be pissed off. Take all that anger and frustration out over the next month and a half and carry this team through October. Nothing says “I won the war” like a World Series ring to go along with the fat paycheck. It does feel like we’ve already been seeing scorched-earth David Price, especially recently, and that’s the guy I want on the mound in Game 2 of a playoff series.
The Red Sox might not have all that much to play for right now, but the Yankees sure do as they continue to hold off the charging A’s in the race to host the Wild Card game. No one really needs to hear Price’s career stat line against the Yankees to know that he has struggled against them over his career — especially in the Bronx. You know Price knows those numbers too, and hopefully sees this as an opportunity to beat his New York demons right before the playoffs. He’s got a great team behind him — which is not something he’s always been able to say — and he’s been red hot lately. How can this possibly go wrong?
Price was cruising along in May and June too — having posted a 7-1 record in the nine games leading up to his July 1 primetime start in New York. Then he gave up five home runs on nine hits, exiting the game in the fourth inning of an eventual 11-1 loss that created another tie atop the AL East. Clearly not as much at stake standings-wise now — but I’m hopeful that Price hasn’t factored that into his mindset at all.
Since that loss to the Yankees, he has been at the top of his game. Of American League starters with at least 60 innings pitched between July 2 and now, Price is No. 1 in ERA (2.22), WHIP (0.88) and home runs allowed (5), second in batting average against (.201), third in FIP (2.65) and BB% (3.7) and sixth in K/9 with 10.0. We’ve read all the stories about the re-invention he’s gone through, so I’m not even going to get into it — but it truly has been amazing to watch. Especially when it’s coming from a guy who has given off a slightly stubborn vibe over the last few years.
Price said prior to the season that he wants to win over Red Sox fans and I think he’s finally on the verge of truly shutting up the most stubborn of the bunch. He’s just gotta slam that door shut and a big performance against the Yankees in the Bronx to clinch the division is exactly the exclamation point he needs. You have to think that gives him all the momentum in the world going into the postseason too. It’s a win-win. Now all he has to do is win.