Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

Three months ago, it would have been ridiculous to suggest that David Price deserved to be the Red Sox’ Game 1 starter in the playoffs.

That idea isn’t so crazy now.

I’ll fully admit it: I’ve never been a Price defender. I’m sure many Red Sox fans aren’t ready to warm up to the idea of Price, who is famously winless as a starter in the postseason, getting the Game 1 nod.

But it’s time to accept that he has earned the job, whether he gets it or not. With just three weeks to go in the regular season, Price is clearly the best pitcher on the staff at the moment.

With the uncertainty surrounding Chris Sale’s ability to stay healthy and get stretched out enough in time for the playoffs, it makes the decision even easier: start Price in Game 1.

Price was masterful again in Wednesday’s win over the Blue Jays, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball. It was another performance worthy of a $217 million ace.

Since he was rocked by the Yankees on July 1, Price has put up a 2.22 ERA, the best in the American League, and a 0.88 WHIP, also the top mark in the Junior Circuit. Price’s ERA in his last nine starts is a miniscule 1.56.

Aug 23, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price reacts after being relieved during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Aug 23, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price reacts after being relieved during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

He has carried the Red Sox pitching staff through the summer, a task Chris Sale was unable to accomplish due to his injured shoulder.

Price looks stronger than he ever has in a Red Sox uniform heading into October. Sale, on the other hand, has thrown six total innings since the end of July.

Price is capable of giving the Sox seven or eight innings on any given night. Sale isn’t stretched out enough to throw more than three innings at this point.

There is no denying that Price’s postseason track record is abysmal, but it’s also impossible to deny his importance to the Red Sox in October. Starting him in Game 2 doesn’t hide him from his past failures. There’s no hiding from that. The only way for him to rewrite the story is to go out and pitch well when it matters the most.

His success and the Red Sox success will go hand-in-hand in October, and the same can be said for Sale.

No matter who starts games one and two, it’s obvious that the Sox cannot win without strong performances from either of them.

But it’s clear at this point who the better option is to start Game 1: the man who has actually pitched, and has pitched better than just about anyone in baseball, over the last two months.

Start David Price in Game 1. He’s earned it.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.