By Terry Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
BOSTON – There are basic principles of Boston sports lore and they are much the same as the basic principles of accounting. Those are the assets and liabilities determining exactly where Bostonians place their sports heroes in the ledger of all-time greats.
Ted Williams, Yaz, and Big Papi are on top of the ledger sheet.
Above the line, or below the line, where will the $217M dollar man, David Price, the Boston Red Sox lefty, rank in the ledger sheets and hearts of Boston fandom?
His sizable deal, the excitement and the expectations began in 2015 when Price signed a reported seven-year, $217 million contract with the Sox, then the highest ever for a pitcher in the majors. As a member of a formidable Tampa Bay Rays rotation, Price was the 2012 Cy Young Award winner and the third starter of MLB’s holy trinity of ace pitchers, along with the LA Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and (then-Detroit Tigers) Washington Nationals Max Scherzer.
Price made pitstops in Detroit and Toronto where there were 15-12 and 18-5 records to be posted on the way to his massive free agent sales offering to Dave Dombrowski, the head of baseball operations for the Red Sox. Price, reportedly, was the first player Dombrowski singled-out when he took the reins of Fenways Finest in 2015.
A December later, Dombrowski added left-hander Chris Sale in a trade that sent four top Sox of the reddish variety to Chicago. In doing that trade, Dombrowski formulated the top “one-two” pitching punch in baseball. That lasted until Price had to pitch for the Red Sox in the postseason.
Putting aside Price’s 2-7 postseason mark accumulated before he joined the Red Sox, Price is now 0-2 for Boston in his three years of playoff pitching for Boston.
His balance sheet is worse.
His ERA in MLB postseason of 2016?
His ERA in 2018 postseason, all 10 batters?
He threw 6.2 innings of effective relief in two games against the Houston Astros in a 2017 in an ALDS that saw the opponents advance past the Red Sox. That relief effort came after left elbow inflammation sidelined Price in spring training and again in late July through September and his bullpen role was a common sense decision that worked out well at the time.
After his 16.20 ERA effort in 1.2 innings against the Yankees, Price was asked if he might consider coming out of the bullpen again.
“I just want to win,” he said, in full generic answer to the media mode. “That’s it. My main goal is to win in the playoffs, to win a World Series. Whatever I have to do to help us do that, I’m fine with. I said it last year and I’ll say it again, I want to win. I want to win a World Series. And whatever I need to do to help us do that, I’m fine with.
“But I know I’m more than capable of winning games as a starter in October,” he added, tipping his honest intention to get back out there, possibly as soon as this Thursday and a Game 5 showdown or as late as a now ambitious dreamlike scenario of Game 1 against the Astros or Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
“That’s what I look forward to doing,” he closed with after the disastrous Game 2 ALDS effort at Fenway Saturday.
Price just might get his wish.
The Red Sox have proven capable of winning four straight against the Yankees, never mind a mission to merely gain another split in Games 3 and 4 in the Bronx, tonight and Tuesday night.
Red Sox Manager Alex Cora decided to go with Nathan Eovaldi in Game 3, allowing previously announced Game 3 starter Rick Porcello to grab an extra days rest after his surprise bullpen appearance in the series opener. The success or failure of Eovaldi tonight might dictate Cora’s use of Porcello and potentially Sale, who could go on Tuesday on three days rest if Boston finds itself facing elimination Tuesday.
Consecutive losses would seal Boston’s fate.
David Price would then join the likes of Bill Buckner, Phil Kessel, Johnny Damon, or maybe Clay Buchholz.
Or, maybe, he would simply opt-out of his deal, as his player option would allow, and join Waterhouse and Cooper?