Completely serious question: if the baseball playoffs started in five days, would you consider David Price for Game 1?
Now, whether or not I’d actually pull the trigger is more complicated, but you get the point. With last night’s win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Price is now 13-2 with a 2.94 ERA over his last 21 starts. The Red Sox are 18-3. And if you wanted to shrink the sample further, Price is 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA since the All-Star break. The Sox are 8-1 in his starts during that span.
Their only loss? Last Friday’s affair against Houston, when Price walked off the mound with a 2-0 lead only to see the nuclear Red Sox bullpen vaporize what should have been another victory.
“I expect to go out there and throw the baseball like this every five days,” Price told reporters after last night’s game. “It’s good that I’ve been able to do that since (Chris Sale) has been out. He’s back now and we expect him to be himself.”
Meanwhile, let’s hope Price isn’t himself come October, but let’s table that for the moment.
As we all now, after having made just one start (68 pitches) in 45 days, Sale returned to the mound on Tuesday night and pitched like he was blindfolded. I suppose that was to be expected. Sale will pitch again on Sunday and the Red Sox continue to suggest that he will be ready for Game 1 of the postseason on October 5.
Now the question nobody wants to ask: what if he isn’t?
Don’t misunderstand. When we say Sale might not be “ready,” we don’t mean injured. We mean operating at something less than peak form. On Tuesday, Sale wasn’t even close. And if the Sale of late September looks anything like the Sale of last September – all while Price continues to roll along with assembly-line efficiency – well, the Red Sox might have an interesting decision to make.
For now, give Price his due. While Red Sox pitchers have sputtered along for weeks, Price has rolled through the second half with little interruption. Since the All-Star break, Sox starters other than Price (including Sale) are a combined 13-13 with a 4.22 ERA, which is the definition of mediocre. AT the moment, there isn’t a Red Sox starter you should feel better about sending to the mound.
So what happens if that’s still the case in three weeks?