By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
Let me preface this: David Price is a postseason disaster. He is the Rembrandt of October choke-artists. There is little reason to believe his next time out will be the time he finally delivers in the playoffs.
But the Red Sox are making the right choice by starting him in Game 2 of the ALCS.
In fact, the decision was an obvious one for Alex Cora and his staff.
The stats don’t lie.
In 16 starts at home this year, Price was 9-2 with a 2.98 ERA. In 14 starts on the road, Price’s ERA rose to 4.31.
You cannot start him on the road against the defending World Series champs. That’s as close to a guaranteed failure as you can get. It would do nothing to help the cause.
Starting Price at Fenway Park gives the him best chance to succeed. By lining him up for Game 2 and potentially Game 6, he can avoid pitching on the road altogether.
That’s good for David Price and that’s good for the Red Sox.
Many have called for Price to start Game 4 because he doesn’t “deserve” to start Game 2. This decision has nothing to do with which pitcher has “earned” which role.
Price, after his disastrous outing against the Yankees in the ALDS that ballooned his October ERA as a starter to 6.03, has clearly earned nothing. Both Eovaldi and Porcello are ahead of Price in the pecking order of trustworthy starting pitchers.
This decision isn’t about which pitchers are better, this decision is about which pitchers give the Red Sox the best chance to win on a given night.
The chances of Price pitching well at Fenway are greater than the chances of him pitching well in Houston. It’s more likely that Eovaldi and Porcello will turn in a better outing on the road than Price.
It’s the obvious matchup to play.
The ballpark is a major factor in this decision, and that’s not lost on Cora. Right-handed hitters mash in Houston, taking advantage of one of the shortest left fields in all of baseball (315 down the line with a puny 14-foot wall, and only 362 to left center.)
It’s best to start righties in Houston. Lefties run into too much trouble in that ballpark and play right into the hands of a heavily right-handed Astros lineup.
You better believe that Springer, Bregman, and Altuve would be licking their chops to face Price in Houston. They’d eat him alive.
Either start Price at Fenway or don’t start him at all.
If Price bombs in Game 2 again, then he doesn’t have to take the mound for Game 6. The Sox could trot Eduardo Rodriguez out there in his place, but it’s hard to feel like Rodriguez is that much of an upgrade over Price given his disastrous outing against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS.
The Red Sox were able to make it past the Yankees without any meaningful contribution from Price, but it’s hard to see them winning a seven game series with the Astros without Price pitching well.
They need to put him in the best position to succeed, no matter how unlikely it may feel that he will finally deliver.
Alex Cora did that by naming Price as his Game 2 starter.