David Price will take the ball for the Red Sox in Game 5

David Price
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World Series Game 5

Red Sox vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 8:15 PM Eastern
TV: FOX
Pitchers: David Price vs. Clayton Kershaw
Breakdown:

The Red Sox will not pit left-hander Chris Sale against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw as they angle for their ninth franchise championship on Sunday. According to postgame comments made by Alex Cora, southpaw David Price will get the ball instead, while Sale will be saved for a potential Game 5 relief appearance and Game 6 start in Boston on Tuesday.

Cora didn’t give any specific reason for the change. Per MLB.com’s Ian Browne, he told reporters that the club feels like “David is good tomorrow […] We talked about it before the game, and this is a good spot for David, in a National League park to start a game. Obviously, he’s been throwing the ball well.”

Price certainly has turned a corner since he was roughed up in Game 2 of the ALDS and ALCS. In his first start, he lasted just 1 2/3 innings and contributed three runs to the Yankees’ eventual 6-2 win. His second outing was no better — he went 4 2/3 innings against the Astros, but surrendered four runs and four walks in the process. Over his last three appearances, however, he’s laid down back-to-back quality starts and pitched a pristine 2/3 inning in relief, allowing just two runs over 12 2/3 innings.

By contrast, Sale hasn’t quite been at his sharpest this postseason. Unforeseen health issues compromised the left-hander’s effectiveness in Game 1 of the ALCS, and he was unable to maintain the pristine command and velocity that was so key to his seventh straight All-Star campaign in 2018. He hasn’t had a truly dominant outing since the Red Sox started their playoff run — in three starts, he’s yet to make it through the sixth inning — though Boston’s electric offense bailed him out during Game 1 of the World Series with an eight-run effort.

According to Cora’s comments, Sale isn’t facing any additional health complications and should be ready to go if the Red Sox need a helping hand during the later innings of Sunday’s game. Still, it says something that they’re willing to start Price on three days of rest rather than going with their well-rested ace.