Price Is The Ace Boston Needs Right Now


David Price has been a target for Red Sox fans since his free agent signing with the club in 2016.  Some of it has been deserved by performance on the field and his comments to the media.  However, after playing a huge role in the Red Sox winning of the World Series in 2018, the narrative has changed.  In this week's Red Sox Column To Be Named Later, I look at the All-Star worthy campaign quietly being turned in by the left-hander.  I also get out my calculator and crunch some numbers on the Red Sox chances in the AL East, once again run down who is hot and who is not, and take a look ahead at what lies ahead on the schedule.

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The Price of Success

At the end of The Dark Knight, Jim Gordon tells his son that Batman is the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one that it needs right now.  David Price has been the opposite for the Red Sox in 2019.  He has not been the ace they deserve, but he has definitely been the one they’ve needed this season.

The Red Sox starting pitchers were a big reason the team got off to a 6-13 start to the season.  Brought along slowly on Spring Training after a heavy workload in the 2018 postseason, each starter struggled through their first two starts of the regular season.  While most have rebounded, performance have generally been uneven from start to start.  However, Price has been the exception.

For the season Price leads all Red Sox starters with a 2.70 ERA, posting a 4-2 record.  He has made only 12 starts this season, and has pitched at least six innings in all but two games, including the recent start against the Astros in which he had to exit in the first inning due to illness.  Since April 6th (his second start of the season) Price has a 2.33 ERA in 54 innings pitched, with a 1.04 WHIP and has limited opponents to a .223 batting average.  Over that span he has not allowed more than three runs in any of his starts, and has allowed no earned runs in half of those outings.

2019 MLB All-Star Gear at MLBshop.comIn a season where the Red Sox have had as many losing streaks and winning streaks, Price has been a stopper, going 3-1 in starts following a Red Sox loss.  Most recently, he bested C.C. Sabathia in the finale of the three game series at Yankee Stadium, helping the Red Sox avoid a sweep.  He also picked up the only win in a four game series against the Rays, again avoiding a sweep at the hands of a team above the Red Sox in the AL East standings.

While Price has been borderline dominant, he has received very little attention for his performance.  With Chris Sale returning to his dominant form after his own early season struggles, Price has been an afterthought.  But he is turning in a season that should earn him a spot on the All-Star Team in Cleveland in July.

Price’s tenure in Boston is reminiscent of the career of John Lackey.  Lackey was signed to a lofty free agent contract and did not come close to living up to his expectations.  His on the field antics and body language earned the scorn of Red Sox fans.  After missing a year to Tommy John surgery, Lackey returned and quietly regained his prior form, helped the Red Sox win a World Series in 2013, and was finally welcomed by the fans.

Do The Math

Going into play on Monday, the Red Sox record sits just two games over .500 at 34-32, good for third place in the AL East.  The Yankees and Rays are tied atop the division standings 40-24 records, with the Red Sox trailing by seven games in the division, and are a game out of the second wild card slot.

The Yankees and Rays are on pace to win 101 games.  In order for the Red Sox to overtake either team, they will have to go 68-28 over their remaining 96 games.  Which means that if one of the two teams above them continue at their current pace, the Red Sox will have to play .708 baseball over the final two-thirds of the season wo win the division.  In 2018, their overall win percentage was .667.  For a team that is having difficulty winning series, that would be a tall order to fill.

Trending Up

After being relieved of his lead-off responsibilities, Andrew Benintendi has responded with a .333 over the past week, which easily led the team in an otherwise lackluster performance offensively.  Benintendi has three doubles among his seven hits this week, though he did get two games off in the Tampa Bay series with lefties Ryan Yarbrough and Blake Snell on the mound for the Rays.

Chris Sale threw easily his best outing of the season, logging a complete game win over the lowly Royals.  He allowed only three hits and struck out 12 with no walks. It has taken a while, but Sale appears to have regained his fastball, consistently hitting 96-97.

Trending Down

Christian Vazquez gets the dubious honor this week, going only 2/19 (.105).

Marcus Walden hit his first bump in what has been a pleasantly surprising season so far.  In four innings pitched last week, Walden allowed three solo home runs.

Look Ahead

The Red Sox home stand concludes with a four game series against the Texas Rangers, who coming into Monday held a one game lead over the Sox for the second wild card spot.  The Red Sox will then head to Baltimore for a three game weekend series against the Orioles.  Though the Orioles are in last place in the AL East with a 20-45 record, the Red Sox have had some difficulties with the O’s, going only 4-3 against them so far this season.

After Baltimore, the Red Sox will meet up again with their Fort Myers neighbors the Minnesota Twins.  Minnesota has been the biggest surprise in baseball this season.  They lead the AL Central by 10 1/2 games and are tied for the best winning percentage in the MLB with Houston at .672.  They also lead the majors in runs scored with 382 runs scored, and in home runs with 125 in 64 games, a pace of just under two per game.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Price Is The Ace Boston Needs Right Now
Price Is The Ace Boston Needs Right Now
Boston Sports Syndicate
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