When David Price signed a seven-year, $217 million-dollar contract in 2015 with the Red Sox, fans were ecstatic. After trading Jon Lester to the A’s in 2014, the Red Sox needed an ace. After the Sox signed Price, they got that ace.
At least that’s what most people thought.
However, in two years with the Red Sox, Price’s inconsistencies on the mound and his inability to stay healthy have made Red Sox fans crazy.
Before the 2016 season, expectations were sky-high for Price. However, unlike Chris Sale, who got off to such a hot start to begin his Sox tenure last season, Price struggled out of the gate. In April and May, Price posted a 5.76 ERA and a 4.62 ERA respectively. In contrast, in April last season, Chris Sale posted an astonishing 1.19 ERA.
Fans reacted accordingly. Chris Sale was a “god” and David Price was the “worst pitcher of all time.”
The problem with Price and Red Sox fans is that Price struggled to begin the 2016 season. However, overall, he did not have a bad year. Price was 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA. He had 228 strikeouts in 230 innings pitched. Besides the ERA, which slowly dropped throughout the season, Price had a really good year.
However, fans expected to see the David Price who went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA in 2015, and they did not get that. Fans expected to see a consistent fastball that was in the mid to high 90’s. Fans did not see that. The expectations were rightfully high for David Price and Price did not meet those expectations.
In 2016, Price also struggled in the postseason. This did not help his relationship with Sox fans either. In his career, Price is just 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA in the postseason. Fans knew this fact. In one postseason start in 2016, Price went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA. The fact that he struggled again just reaffirmed sox fans’ belief that the Price signing was a bad idea.
You mean the Red Sox signed a guy to a massive contract who can’t pitch in October? Great, Boston fans mutter.
In 2017, Price was hurt for most of the season. When he did actually pitch, he was great. He went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA. However, he only had 11 starts. Price actually won over a lot of fans pitching out of the bullpen in the playoffs because it was the first time Price stepped up in big moments. He looked more like his dominant old self. However, the fact that he only started 11 games was still frustrating for Sox nation.
Last season, Chris Sale posted a 17-8 record with a 2.90 ERA and 308 strikeouts. It was a Pedro Martinez type of year. The fact that he got off to such a great start was huge in the minds of Red Sox fans. Sale actually struggled some towards the end of the season.
However, fans did not seem to care. For example, in August, Sale had a 4.38 ERA. In addition, in the postseason, Sale was 0-2 with an 8.36 ERA. However, because Sale had so much early success, he was basically given a free pass for his late-season struggles.
Price, on the other hand, is still trying to win over Red Sox nation after his terrible start to the season in 2016.
Message to free agents who sign with the Red Sox: If you sign a massive contract, get off to a good start. Bostonians, like most fans, make very quick impressions. If you mess up, they will be all over you. Just ask Carl Crawford or Pablo Sandoval.
As Opening Day creeps closer, what type of season should we expect from David Price in 2018?
In his 10-year career, Price is 127-68 with a 3.22 ERA. He has a long track record of success and this upcoming season should not be any different. However, it all depends on if David Price will be healthy. If he is healthy, he should have a “bounce-back” season. Last season, Price looked a lot more comfortable on the mound than he did in 2016. If healthy, there is no reason why Price can’t have an All-Star season.
This will be Price’s third season with the Red Sox. In Boston, it typically takes a couple of seasons for pitchers to get acclimated. For example, John Lackey was not effective in Boston until his thirdseason. Josh Beckett bounced back in his second season after struggling in his first year. Drew Pomeranz had a great second year with the Sox in 2017. Rick Porcello was incredible in his second year and won the Cy Young award after struggling in his first season.
For whatever reason, there is a pattern of Red Sox pitchers bouncing back after a tough first year. If Price stays healthy, look for him to do the same.
If John Lackey was able to win back the Red Sox fans, anyone can. There are not many Red Sox players who were hated by the fans like John Lackey was hated. And yet, even Lackey ultimately won the fans over by pitching well.
David Price is in the third year of a seven-year contract. If he chooses to stay in Boston, he has a long road ahead. If he struggles this season, fans will boo him out of town. However, if he pitches well, people will love him.
2018 is a big year for David Price. Let’s see if he takes advantage of it.