David Price has had his struggles in Boston, but he is a huge part to the Red Sox success this season
Featured Image Courtesy of Zimbio.com (Sept. 29, 2017 – Source: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images North America)
The Red Sox announced that Chris Sale would start Opening Day. They also announced in that same breath that David Price would follow Sale, and Rick Porcello would slot in on the 3rd day of the season. The Red Sox seem poised to start off the season on the right foot, but I do have one question for them:
Was David Price ever a consideration to start on Opening Day?
I am going to assume he was not, but would it have been a good idea to?
Chris Sale is the right choice to start Opening Day. He earned it. Sale pitched 214.1 innings across 32 starts and had 308 strikeouts in 2017. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA. He had a lights out year last year, and if it was not for the robot that is Corey Kluber, he would have had a Cy Young award to show for it.
Why would I ever suggest a reason to give David Price the ball on Opening Day after that season from Sale?
It cannot be their stats. I like to look at a three-year window when evaluating players, and Chris Sale leads David Price in every category. In the span of 2015-2017, Sale had a 11.29 K/9 to David Price’s 9.07 K/9. That is two more strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.
That is dominance.
Their ERAs were similar, and the innings are in Chris Sale’s favor as well with 649.2 to David Price’s 525.0. It is a little tough to compare them, as David Price was out for most of 2017, but Sale has just outperformed David Price in every aspect over the last 3 years.
If you look at FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), it helps digest how good a pitcher is outside of having a phenomenal defense behind them. In the years I mentioned above, David Price had a 3.26 FIP, while Chris Sale came in at 2.89, almost a full half below him.
Every metric is in Chris Sale’s favor to be handed the ball on Opening Day.
And yet, I cannot help but wonder if the Red Sox could have done a solid for David Price. He wants to come back from an injury that limited him to 11 starts last year. Even before Spring Training he was singing a different tune to ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
“You can always make things better by pitching better. That’s what I’ve got to do. Go out there and throw the ball the way I threw the ball before I got to Boston.”
He is right. If David Price comes out swinging in 2018, he will follow in the footsteps of John Lackey. Lackey, if you remember, had a disastrous tenure in Boston. That was until he came back from surgery and threw the clock back to a 3.52 ERA and helped bring a city a much needed bright spot in 2013.
If Lackey can do it, David Price can too. Nobody really complains about Lackey much anymore, and maybe the same thing will happen to David Price. If he pitches well and helps Boston win a World Series, and actually gets a win in the playoffs, the fans are going to go nuts.
David Price could have been tabbed the opening day starter. Price wants to get off on the right foot. He wants to put last season’s issues behind him, both on and off the field. He has a fire in his belly, and wants to turn the clock back to vintage David Price. If he can come close to his production in 2015, the fans will love him. He had a 2.45 ERA over the course of that year and put the Blue Jays on his back and carried them into the playoffs. What better way to start off a comeback by David Price than to give him the ball to start the year?
It sends a clear message to Price that the Red Sox want him here, and can give him an opportunity to put all of the demons from last year in the rear view mirror.
I can tell you that Chris Sale most likely would not have had an issue with it. He seems like a team guy and just wants to win. If David Price finds his groove early, the league better watch out because Chris Sale and David Price as your 1-2 punch is one of the best in baseball, if not the best.
If you ask me, I would have given the ball to David Price on Opening Day. I would immediately be fired by every single Red Sox fan, but I would stand by my decision. This team needs David Price to be the pitcher that he is capable of being. If he comes out swinging in the first game of the year, the struggles of last year become a memory, and the warm embrace of Red Sox fans will find David Price quickly.