The Boston Red Sox don’t care about David Price’s history in the postseason. Despite his playoff struggles, Price is slated to start Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed that move Wednesday.
That decision should draw some criticism from those who have watched Price pitch in October over his career. In the regular season, Price has a career 3.25 ERA. In the postseason, he has a 5.28 ERA in 18 games.
Those struggles popped up again in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. Price gave up three runs over 1 2/3 innings during his Game 2 start. The Red Sox went on to lose the game 6-2.
Cora was asked about Price’s October issues during the ALDS, and he told reporters he doesn’t buy into those struggles being a mental hurdle for Price, according to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports.
“I think there’s been guys around the league that they struggle their first 10 starts,” Cora said. “Like, [Justin] Verlander, nobody remembers that he wasn’t good early in his career in the playoffs, and now he’s kind of like the poster child of playoff baseball. I read something about Pedro [Martinez] against Cleveland. I don’t know. We saw it last year out of the bullpen, he did a good job. He pitched [Game 163 in 2013] and went nine innings … against the Rangers. One thing for sure, he’s in the same spirits today. He’s ready to roll which is very important for us.”
Verlander gave up 26 earned runs in his first 42 postseason innings. Since then, he has been lights out.
It took Verlander roughly 42 innings to get things turned around in the postseason. Price has already tossed 75 innings in the playoffs.
That’s still an incredibly small sample compared to the rest of Price’s career. In 1,922 regular season innings, he’s been an excellent player. In 75 playoff innings, he’s been pretty bad.
With the move, Cora is betting Price can be more like the guy who has played well over 1,922 innings. As he points out, Price has had moments where he’s excelled in clutch situations. He tossed a complete game against the Texas Rangers in Game 163 in 2013. And he gave up two runs over eight innings in an ALDS start against the Baltimore Orioles in 2014. If you think Price just can’t perform well in the postseason, it’s tough to just write those performances off.
Given how well Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi pitched in the ALDS, the move comes with risks. But Cora has done a great job during his first season as the Red Sox’s manager.
Price can justify his manager’s decision by going out and tossing a strong start against the reigning champs.
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