We’re officially two years into the David Price Experience and, unsurprisingly, it looks dissimilar from Year 1 of the DPE. On the field, Price continues to be great – maybe not 30-million-dollars-per-season great, but it’s not like the team is strapped for cash. Obviously, the biggest difference that stands out from the past season is how much time Price missed. After pitching over 200 innings in six of the last seven years, Price only logged 74.2 innings this year. All things considered, it’s somewhat remarkable that Price even made an appearance for the Red Sox this season, not to mention becoming their best pitcher during their brief postseason run.
The elbow injury that plagued him from the start of Spring Training was serious enough to warrant a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, which is a troubling sign more often than not. He’s apparently 100% healthy heading into next season, which is somehow equal parts great news and terrifying. How someone just rests off an elbow injury that would “require surgery in a younger pitcher” and then just becomes 100 percent again is beyond me. My limbs ache all the time, regardless of how much rest I get, and I’ve never thrown a baseball hard in my life.
WHAT WENT RIGHT in 2017
Ironically enough, the highlight of Price’s year was his postseason performance. The 6.2 innings he pitched over two games in the ALDS gave the Sox a puncher’s chance and helped dispel the notion that Price couldn’t handle the big stage. He faced 27 batters without allowing a run, giving up five hits while striking out six and walking two (one intentional). His performance in Game 3 would be the stuff of legends if the Red Sox weren’t otherwise thoroughly overwhelmed in the first round of the playoffs:
It’s worth noting that he was also lights out in the month of July, posting a 2.48 FIP over 25 innings that month. His numbers looked like vintage Price that month, and whether that’s good health, luck, or both, July was a good time for the David Price Fan Club.
WHAT WENT WRONG in 2017
Quite a bit, guys! Quite. A. Bit.
We’ll start with the nagging elbow injury that occurred in early March and was, apparently, a “seven-to-ten day injury”. Price’s first game ended up being on May 31st in Chicago, which is actually far more than seven-to-ten days away from early March.
From there, we’ll pivot to the eight-week DL stint from late July through late September for the same elbow injury. So for those counting at home, that’s 16 weeks of missed time for an arm injury that was supposed to recover in one. Either the Red Sox medical team has no interest in giving accurate guidelines or the Red Sox need to hire a new medical team.
The fun doesn’t stop there, though. Off the field, the biggest moment of Price’s season came in the form of a personal beef with Dennis Eckersley. Basically, Price takes issue with something Eck said about one of Eduardo Rodriguez’s rehab starts, corners Eck on a team plane to yell at him about it, and everyone loses their minds. Even if people overreacted in the moment (and let’s be honest, they did), I’m not sure what Price expected to happen. He hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the fans since arriving, so picking a fight with a fan favorite was never not going to go terribly.
But wait! There’s more. Price had actually gotten in another kerfuffle a few weeks before that one, only this time it was with NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich. The Boston media is notoriously prickly even to the nicest people, so that was never a battle Price could win.
So, to summarize: two ugly beefs with well-liked media members and two lengthy DL stints with a serious elbow injury. Other than that, things went okay.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018
2018 is shaping up to be a big year for both Price and the Red Sox. After next season, Price’s opt-out clause kicks in. If Price hates Boston, he has every incentive to pitch his ass off and hit the market next winter. He wouldn’t have a hard time finding interested teams if he were to take that path, especially if he continued to pitch like he did at the end of this season. With that said, would another team throw $31 million (the amount he’d make if he opted in) on the table? That I’m not so sure of. Here’s a 33-year-old with an elbow that probably needs Tommy John surgery.
If Price is as healthy as Dave Dombrowski suggested several weeks ago, I would expect him to pitch like the frontline starter the Red Sox signed up for. I expect him to put up good-to-really-good numbers that no one’s happy about because they’re not great numbers. I expect him to be heavily scrutinized from the first day of Spring Training and I expect that he won’t be very happy about it. I expect tense press conferences and at least one maddening 1-0 complete game loss. The David Price Experience is a blast once every five days and pretty miserable the other four, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Photo by Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports