For David Price, the Road to Redemption Must Go Through October

David Price put on his most dominant performance of the 2018 season on Thursday afternoon when he pitched eight shutout innings to beat the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park.  He struck out seven batters while not allowing any walks and only three hits to the first-place Indians. Price capped off his outing by punching out Roberto Perez and shouting emphatically as he walked off the mound with a 7-0 lead, knowing that his day was done after throwing 101 pitches.

The Red Sox would eventually win the game by that score, salvaging the final two games of the four-game series against Cleveland to earn the series split. Having been in the midst of a losing streak earlier in the week, and with the team’s ace, Chris Sale, currently on the disabled list, Price’s victory carried extra meaning to it. The Red Sox needed Price to rediscover his full potential and pitch like the ace he had been for so many years in Tampa Bay, and he did just that.

Price alluded to just that after the game when addressing the media, according to the Boston Herald.

“By far, absolutely,” said Price about whether this is the best stretch he’s had in a Red Sox uniform. “To not have that really bad game mixed in at some point, that’s good. This is the pitcher Boston signed. So for me to get back to that, it’s about time.”

The part of Price’s answer that stands out the most is when he said, “This is the pitcher Boston signed.”

He is half correct. Yes, the Boston Red Sox signed David Price to win big games against potential playoff opponents in the regular season. They signed David Price to be an anchor of this rotation and be a dependable starter who can pitch deep into ballgames and win. However, that is only half of the job. The other half of the job is winning big games in the postseason, something which David Price has yet to accomplish thus far in his three years in Boston.

In 2016, Price’s first year in Boston, he made just one playoff start and it was an abject nightmare. Price lasted just 3.1 innings against the team he just beat, the Cleveland Indians, surrendering five runs in an eventual loss in the American League Division Series. His 2016 meltdown was not an aberration of any kind either, as Price holds a ghastly 2-8 career record with a 5.03 ERA in postseason appearances.

His 2017 postseason saw him in a much different role, coming out of the bullpen for the Red Sox and proving to be extremely effective in that role. Price pitched a total of 6.2 innings out of the pen during the 2017 ALDS and did not allow a run against the Houston Astros. That being said, Price coming out of the bullpen is not the pitcher that Boston signed. The Red Sox did not give a seven-year, $217 million contract to a relief pitcher — they gave it to a man they believed would be the ace of their starting rotation for years to come. In order for Price to live up to his contract, he must win as a starter in the postseason and, barring an epic collapse by the Red Sox, he will have the chance to do just that in 2018.

The amount of pressure that will be on Price this postseason is entirely up to him, quite frankly. Whether he likes it or not, he is not the ace of the Red Sox — that title belongs to Chris Sale. At this point, Red Sox Nation is just happy to see Price pitching well, and with consistency, as opposed to getting his proverbial lips ripped off by opposing lineups.

Unfortunately, Price cannot seem to get out of his own way when it comes to turning the fans against him, mostly due to how he carries himself off the field. Even when it’s smooth sailing on the mound, Price goes out of his way to create his own media iceberg to crash into, such as he did earlier this week.

Price was asked by legendary Red Sox beat reporter Jonny Miller of WBZ Sports why he has been pitching so well recently, to which Price responded, “I’ve made adjustments.” Miller then, as any good reporter would do, tried to get Price to expound on that answer by asking what kind of adjustments he has made, and that is when Price decided to drive full-speed into that proverbial iceberg.

Yes, David Price did, “that thing” again. “That thing” is him demeaning a 69-year old reporter, acting like a prima donna, and drawing the ire of Boston sports fans and media alike. It is interactions like this that result in there being more pressure put on Price going forward. After all, if he’s going to talk the talk, then he had better be able to walk the walk.

Luckily for Price, as well as Red Sox fans, there is one simple way in which all of his media faux pas can be forgiven. To quote Al Davis, “Just win, baby.” Winning is a great band-aid for all of Price’s off-field buffoonery. The 2018 Red Sox are a World Series-caliber ballclub, but the lack of playoff success for Price remains one of the few dark clouds still looming over the team. Price claims that “this is the pitcher Boston signed,” and this postseason he will get the chance to prove that once and for all.

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