Even considering David Price’s last two starts — which have been subpar comparatively speaking — the 33-year-old deserves credit for a yearlong stretch of ace-like superiority. What he does (and says) off the field are a buzzkill to say the least, but I try my best to separate the pitching from the b****ing in my search for inner peace. It’s entirely possible to appreciate what he’s done on the field over the last year and be completely over the off-field stuff, because that’s where I am right now and I think a lot of people can sympathize with that feeling. A big piece of appreciating Price is being able to separate the on-field and off-field stuff.
ON THE FIELD
The statistics speak for themselves and have been doing so for more than a year now. Since May 17, 2018, Price has posted a 20-7 record, the 13th-best WHIP (1.14) among qualified pitchers, 13th highest left on base percentage (77.5) and the 12th highest K/9 ratio (9.98) in Major League Baseball to go along with the 17th lowest ERA (3.70), per Fangraphs. Only seven other MLB pitchers are ranked in the top 20 in all four of those statistical categories since May 2018: Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, Trevor Bauer, Aaron Nola, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo. I’d say that’s pretty good company … ace-like company even. It’s worth mentioning that Price is also the third oldest player on that list — behind only Verlander (36) and Morton (35).
Based on average annual salary, Price is the sixth highest paid player in the league, according to Spotrac, so some might say “well he’s pitching like he should for that kind of money.” And that’s certainly true. But when he originally signed his seven-year deal in December 2015 and then struggled to find his footing throughout the 2016 season, not many people expected him to ever live up to the $217 million contract. So the fact that he is doing that now — two years older and with a slightly slower fastball — is worth more than a little appreciation.
OFF THE FIELD
The saga with Hall of Famer and Red Sox commentator Dennis Eckersley is dramatic and immature and there’s really no other way to explain it at this point. I know for sure that I am not the only one who rolled their eyes and said “AGGGGGGAAAAAAIIIINNNNN?” when that fued resurfaced a few weeks ago. What annoyed me most about the re-hashing of something I was really hoping had died forever was the tweet Price sent out hours before stirring the pot.
Tweeting out “today’s gonna be lit!!! #staytuned” before publicly bashing a baseball legend over the word “yuck” (again) seems like something a 15-year-old girl would do to her ex-best friend. I know Eck is not everyone’s cup of tea — I personally love him on-air — but regardless of who the comments were directed toward, it’s still stupid and unnecessary. It feels like Price has bought into the villain role in Boston and no one is going to convince him that another approach is any better, but his inability to let things go will end up affecting his legacy here. Not that that seems to bother him at all.
It feels like a little bit of baseball karma that two of Price’s tougher starts this season followed the re-hashing of the Eckersley beef and maybe this will deter him from stirring up any other unnecessary drama going forward. But don’t hold your breath on that — especially if things start to get real bad in Boston over the next few weeks. If it goes that way, I could see Price playing the deflector role to take the heat off some of his under-performing teammates (because remember, he’s a great teammate and Eck was not). Why would he care about burning another bridge in Boston if he already feels like the vast majority of Red Sox fans are against him? After all, it was Eck’s comments about Price’s teammate that started this whole thing back in 2017.
I don’t want to see Price fail. He has been one of the most consistent members of a lackluster rotation this season and him falling apart now would only be more bad news for a team that already has an uphill battle just getting into the postseason. Price taking the focus off anything other than that goal is the absolute last thing the Red Sox need and let’s hope he recognizes that.