Good news in the Red Sox’ camp today: David Price is nearing a return to the mound, and WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford estimates that it could come as soon as May 29. No official return date has been posted by the club yet, and it will likely be several more weeks until Price’s status becomes more clear, but the left-hander appears to be making considerable progress as he rehabs a left elbow injury.
The veteran lefty was diagnosed with left elbow soreness at the start of spring training and found himself sidelined well before his scheduled Grapefruit League debut in early March. It’s been slow going since then, but the club has successfully avoided any invasive surgical procedures so far and still projects a 2017 return for their ace. Pregame reports from manager John Farrell on Saturday revealed that Price is expected to make another four appearances this month: a four-inning simulated game on May 9 and three minor league outings on May 14, 19 and 24. According to Bradford, that should bring Price up to speed by May 29 or 30, which would allow him to make his first official start of the season during the Red Sox’ away series in Chicago.
Prior to his setback, Price turned in a 3.99 ERA in 2016, going 17-9 with a 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 in 230 innings for the Red Sox.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.