To say Red Sox starter David Price has been controversial in his first two years in Boston would be an understatement. The lefty inked a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox as a free agent in December 2015.
Price’s 2016 campaign was decent, though under the high bar he had set for himself. He finished 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA and a 228/50 K/BB ratio in a major league-best 230 innings. He started Game 2 of the ALDS last year and struggled, giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Indians.
Price experienced elbow soreness early in spring training this year, so he started the regular season on the disabled list. He didn’t make his season debut until May 29. He also missed nearly two months between July 23 and September 16. All told, he made 11 starts and five relief appearances this past regular season, finishing with a 3.38 ERA and a 76/24 K/BB ratio in 74 2/3 innings.
There were also a couple of off-the-field incidents which muddied Price’s reputation. He got into an expletive-filled spat with the media in June, and also had an issue with Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley.
The Red Sox did not include Price in their ALDS rotation, starting Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz in Games 1 and 2 and going with Doug Fister to begin Game 3. That’s not something one would expect to hear about a starter signed for $217 million.
Price has nevertheless proved valuable out of the bullpen. He tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in Game 2 when Pomeranz could only last two innings. Price gave up a hit and a walk while striking out two. His performance in Game 3, though, might have redeemed himself with the city of Boston. Fister recorded only four outs before manager John Farrell lifted him from Sunday’s game. Joe Kelly pitched 1 2/3 innings before giving way to Price. The lefty went on to toss four scoreless innings, giving up four hits and a walk with four strikeouts. The Red Sox narrowly hung onto a 4-3 lead from the fourth through seventh innings and finally broke out for a six-spot in the bottom of the seventh. They went on to win 10-3, staying alive in the ALDS.
The Red Sox still have to win each of the next two games if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive. It’s a tall order, for sure, but an order still possible because of the yeoman’s work by Price on Sunday. This may prove to be the turnaround moment in Price’s tenure in Boston.