David Price has been great in his last few starts, there’s no denying that. However, this does not answer the question of what the Red Sox are going to do with him in the postseason. There are two things to consider when trying to figure out what they should do.
The first is Price’s history as a starter in the playoffs, which isn’t pretty. At this point, you have to seriously consider if it isn’t mental for him. You can’t risk him getting shelled and essentially losing a game in a 5 game series. His postseason numbers differ incredibly as a starter versus as a reliever.
In 61 innings as a starter, Price has allowed 41 earned runs. You read that correctly, 41. That averages out to an ERA of about 6.00. Not exactly what you’re looking for from one of your top starters. As a reliever, however, he’s allowed only one earned run in 12 1/3 innings. That works out to an ERA of about 0.70, which is flat out dominant. Now, he has much smaller of a body of work as a reliever, but just last year it worked extremely well, so it’s a decent bet that it could work this year too.
The other thing to consider is the current bullpen situation. Kimbrel is the closer, and he’s been great this year, even though he’s been stumbling a bit lately. Other than him, the bullpen has been a mess lately. Unless you’re going to trust guys like Tyler Thornburg and Heath Hembree in high leverage situations, the Red Sox are going to need another arm in the bullpen for the playoffs. Do you really want that arm to be attached to Drew Pomeranz? I know I don’t. The way that Price performed in the playoffs last season, he would be a shot in the arm for a bullpen that can definitely use it.
The problem that the Red Sox face is two fold. They risk Price falling apart in the playoffs as a starter, which could ruin their World Series aspirations. Then again, if they take him out of the rotation, they’re taking away a guy who has been nothing short of dominant lately, leaving a potentially huge hole in the starting rotation. What will they decide? We’ll have to wait to find out, but if I were running them, I’d be putting Price in the pen and hope that he can be as good as he was last year, and that the starters can step up without him in the rotation.
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast
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Photo: Sporting News