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David Price will start ALCS Game 2 for Red Sox

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Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports that Red Sox lefty David Price will start Game 2 of the ALCS against the Astros. Chris Sale will start Game 1.

Price, who has had very little success pitching in the postseason, struggled in his ALDS Game 2 start against the Yankees. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings, serving up three runs on three hits with two walks and no strikeouts. That bumped his career postseason ERA, spanning 75 innings, to 5.28.

Generally speaking, we often make too big a deal over a particular player’s postseason struggles. Clayton Kershaw, for example, had a career 4.55 ERA after the 2016 playoffs and was thought to have had some kind of a mental block when the spotlight was on him. But he had a few really good starts last year in the playoffs (as well as two poor ones). Despite its increased significance in our minds, the playoffs are still beholden to statistical principles. Price’s 75 playoff innings, or Kershaw’s 89 innings through 2016, still constitutes a relatively small sample size so they’re not very illuminating. As always, this XKCD comic is relevant:

That being said, players are human and it’s worth wondering when narrative becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. Might Price, who pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs last year, be putting more pressure on himself to perform? Could he be doubting himself as he pitches? We obviously can’t measure psychological aspects like this, but it is an interesting consideration.

Still, when Price takes the mound on Sunday, he should be expected to pitch closer to his career 3.25 ERA and more specifically his 3.74 ERA over the last three seasons rather than his career 5.28 postseason ERA. Adjust up a bit to factor in the increased level of competition in the playoffs. Anything can happen, but the modal outcome is two or three runs over four or five innings. If Price gets trampled by the Astros’ offense, we’re going to continue hearing about how he can’t handle the big stage. If he tosses a gem, the narrative will go mum until the next time he falters.

Rafael Devers won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.

However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”

Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.

Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.

Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.

No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.