This week’s spotlight is on the Toronto Blue Jays‘ newest ace David Price. On Monday afternoon, Price made his first start as a Blue Jay since being acquired at the Trade Deadline last week. With one of the best offenses in the league, the Blue Jays will ultimately be pinning their playoff hopes on the arm of Price to lead them to October, ending their playoff drought. With the trade, Price finds himself back in the American League East and will go toe-to-toe with the New York Yankees once again for the division crown. For Toronto, will Price be enough to overcome the deficit this season before the left-handed ace declares for free agency at season’s end?
In start number one, Price was as advertised against the Minnesota Twins. However, debuts for Price have been solid throughout his career. In 2008 with Tampa Bay, he went 5.1 innings allowing just one earned run. Nearly one year ago with Detroit, Price went 8.2 innings allowing three earned runs with 10 strikeouts. On Monday, Price dazzled again in eight innings pitched allowing just one run on three hits with 11 strikeouts. Price earned the victory in a debut outing for the first time in his career.
If Toronto does hope to reach October their goal will be to have Price pitch north of the border as much as possible. Including Monday, Price is now 8-0 in Toronto in 10 career starts. The Rogers Centre appears to be a comfort zone for Price. Down the stretch, Price is also capable of handling the pressure-packed games. During his career, in the final three months of the season Price is now 29-16 when on the mound between August and October. Posting 429 strikeouts to just 122 walks, he also commands a 3.5 strikeout to walk ratio during that time. To beat Price, teams have to be at their best.
The Blue Jays will also need to chase down the Yankees if they have visions of capturing the divisional crown. The two teams have 13 meetings left this season, and entering Monday the Yankees owned a six game lead on the Blue Jays. In 26 career starts, Price is 10-7 versus the Bronx Bombers. The division just may come down to those handful of starts when Price takes the mound against New York.
At the moment, the Blue Jays and Yankees are one and two, respectively, in baseball in terms of runs scored. But with the formidable New York bullpen on one side, and Price now on the other side, the division will be determined by who can prevent the most runs down the stretch. Price has already told the Blue Jays’ front office that he does plan to test free agency after the season. Price feels that he has earned that right. If the soon-to-be 30 year-old pitcher can help lead a team from six games back and into the postseason, he will certainly have earned that right even more. Toronto moved valuable prospects in their effort to acquire Price last week. But it will be worth that risk if they do find themselves among the final ten teams come October.
In the winter, a team to be determined will also judge just how much of a risk a big money contract is worth for one prized arm. Price will certainly be in the spotlight when that time comes, but for now, David Price will be in the spotlight to see if he can lead the Blue Jays to that overdue trip to the playoffs. After start number one, he is off to a good start.