Prior to the 2016 season, the Red Sox were in search of a starting pitcher who could handle the label “ace” appropriately. They weren’t looking to enter another season of the “five aces” which was led by longtime Red Sox starter, Clay Buchholz, in 2015. Following another last-place finish, it was time for the club to go out and bring in a legitimate head of their rotation. And to nobody’s surprise, the new–at the time–President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, went out and spent top dollar to bring on the hottest free agent of that winter, David Price.
Price’s tenure in Boston didn’t start out as many people had hoped. The expectation was sky high and when you’re being paid $31 million a year to pitch in a city that lives and breathes baseball, you better perform immediately or the pressure will take no time to mount.
From the start of his Red Sox career on April 5th, 2016 through the end of July of that season, the club’s brand new, outrageously expensive toy had constructed an ERA up and over 4.00 at 4.26. Fans quickly began to become disgruntled with the signing as they were becoming impatient following two last-place finishes.
He’s faced harsh criticism, has had blowouts with reporters, infamously verbally attacked hall of fame pitcher and Red Sox broadcast member Dennis Eckersley, and continued to struggle through the postseason during his first two years of his lucrative deal. But midway through the 2018 season, Price began to straighten things out and resemble the pitcher who the club thought they were signing prior to 2016.
Price has been nothing short of an ace as we begin to enter the heart of the current season. And while the team continues to skid and somewhat search for their identity, Price has at least been one consistent for the club.
Like most of the staff, he had a tough time to start off the year. Over his first two starts against the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, he’d surrendered eight earned runs, four to each team. Since then though, we haven’t seen the 33-year-old left-handed pitcher give up anything over three earned runs in a single start.
The AL East has found itself to be realistically, a three team race. Regardless of their poor positioning thus far, the Red Sox still do pose a threat, at least for now, to continue their AL East reign.
The two teams above Boston are the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. Two teams who no matter which way you look at it, have shown that they are two of the top teams in baseball so far. So when the Red Sox do square off with these divisional foes, the team’s going to need someone to step up and quiet down those two offenses who can make some noise.
Price has had four starts against these two teams. We’ve seen him toe the rubber on three separate occasions against Tampa Bay, and just once against New York. Against his old ballclub–the Rays–the ace has given his team the chance to win the game each time surrendering just two earned runs in their first two meetings, and one in the most recent.
Against New York, an opponent who has given him a metaphorical hell during his time with the Red Sox, Price was just as dominant as he’s been for a majority of the season. The team has needed every chance they can muster to defeat the Yankees in 2019. They’re a powerhouse offensively who has resembled the 2018 Red Sox in regards to relentlessness. When the team needed a win, Price held the offensive juggernauts to two earned over 6.1 IP with six hits.
Realistically, there shouldn’t be too much stock in whether or not a player in the MLB makes the all-star team anymore. The voting system is what it’s always been, a popularity contest, and those who don’t deserve to make the rosters still do because, well, they move the needle.
But David Price should be pitching in the July showdown in 2019 if we’re going to have all-starts participate in the All-Star Game.
His May was spectacular and this is the month where people really began to take notice of Price’s successes to start the season which has been overshadowed by the reigning World Series Champions’ lackluster start. In May we saw a WHIP below 1.00 at 0.96 and an ERA of 1.53.
David Price has become a pitcher who Red Sox fans can rely on and he’s proven that since July of last year. Per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, in his last 27 outings–26 of those being starts–Price is 12-4 with a 2.68 ERA. These stats include the 2018 postseason where Price rid himself of his playoff demons and spun the entire stigma of his inability to pitch in October on its head.
In a season of inconsistency from every facet of the Red Sox game, David Price has been a breath of fresh air when he takes the mound. You know things are going good for the $217 million pitcher when he hasn’t been a central story within the Boston sports media. And for the sake of the 2019 Red Sox, let’s hope things remain that way because this team needs him to continue to pitch with this type of consistency if they want any chance of success this season.