The Red Sox Rotation is Now a Strength

For almost three years, the Red Sox rotation has been a source of frustration. In 2014, Jon Lester was traded away, and Ben Cherington didn’t replace him. Boston lacked an ace for what felt like the longest time, until David Price was signed last winter. Under-performance early this season increased the worry among fans, but things have gradually clicked into place, giving the Red Sox a starting corps to be relied upon as October looms ahead.

A Resurgence for the Red Sox Rotation

In the past thirty days, the Red Sox rotation has pitched to a 3.19 ERA. Only two teams have a better mark in all of baseball: the Cubs and Rays. Boston is also fourth overall in FIP during that span, while a WHIP of 1.110 is the best any American League team can muster. Only the Blue Jays and Tigers have induced more soft contact in the past month among AL rivals, which suggests the Red Sox rotation has definitely turned a corner.

Red Sox rotation

Rick Porcello has emerged as the staff ace, as his 2.08 ERA in the past thirty days illustrates. But David Price has also improved greatly as the season has progressed. The big southpaw has a 2.36 ERA in his last six starts, and he appears to be peaking when it matters most. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez has a 2.67 ERA in his last five starts; Drew Pomeranz is at 3.31 over his last six; and Clay Buchholz has even returned from the dead with a 2.70 mark in his last 16.2 innings pitched.

Once a Weakness, Now a Strength

Whichever way you dice it, the Red Sox rotation, so often maligned, is quietly becoming a strength. Aside from the numbers, this group just inspires more confidence than it ever has before. Porcello and Price are experienced guys who should handle the pennant race pressure. Rodriguez seems to have ironed out a few issues. And the Sox still have Steven Wright to return from his stint on the disabled list, to compliment Pomeranz and Buchholz, who are also doing just fine.

All things considered, Boston is rounding into form at just the right time. The offense has been relentless all season, but it is now backed by a more consistent pitching staff. In general, the Sox seem to be grinding harder right now, and there is a newfound toughness to this team that has enabled it to win plenty of close games recently. That bodes well for the stretch run, which will feature plenty of games against division rivals such as Toronto and Baltimore.

Through all the hardship and uncertainty, here the Red Sox stand. It’s late August and they have a 71-54 record, good for a share of first place. Just thirty-seven games remain, and one last push is needed for a return to postseason play. For the first time in a long while, the Sox have a strong balance between offense, defense and pitching. Don’t look now, but this may be the most complete team in the American League.

It’s Time to Worry About David Price

David Price was supposed to be the savior. When the Red Sox gave him a seven-year, $217 million contract in the winter, a major void was filled at Fenway Park. The ghost of Jon Lester was exorcised, as Boston welcomed the most expensive pitcher ever to grace planet earth. Here was the leader of a new generation.

David Price

Fast forward seven months, and that situation is yet to materialize. Steven Wright has been the Red Sox’ ace this season, while David Price has struggled in a variety of ways. Fans waited through the early April struggles, when the new superstar was settling in. Then they waited a few more weeks, a couple extra months. David Price is still yet to deliver. And with August rounding into view, it’s time to debate exactly what’s happening. It might even be time to worry.

David Price Has a Great Track Record

Quite simply, David Price has never pitched this bad for this long. He came up with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, famously closing out their ALCS triumph over the Red Sox. He then developed a brilliant reputation, with a 3.18 ERA in 170 starts. Price won twenty games and the Cy Young Award in 2012, further enhancing his legacy. The Tigers traded for him in 2014, and he was even better in Detroit, pitching to a 2.90 ERA. Finally, he was dealt to the Blue Jays last season and became a key cog in a team that reached the postseason for the first time in twenty-two years.

Nobody doubts the resume. Throughout his career, David Price has been a dominant horse capable of anchoring any rotation. The Red Sox were in dire need of that, and they pursued him hard in free agency. Price was viewed as the next great Boston ace, in the mold of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett. He was the guy onto whom Red Sox Nation conveyed so much expectation. He was the cornerstone.

So far, it just hasn’t worked out. David Price currently has a 9-7 record, a 4.51 ERA and a 1.275 WHIP. Only two pitchers in all of baseball have allowed more hits: Mike Pelfrey and Marcus Stroman. Perhaps these numbers would be acceptable early in the season, as a new player becomes accustomed to fresh surroundings. But it’s no longer April. It’s no longer May or June. We have just sixty-four games left in the regular season, and the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history has been barely league average for the Boston Red Sox.

The Future of David Price

David Price knows he hasn’t been good enough. In every press conference, he has owned it. Perhaps more than any athlete in Boston sports history, he’s looked at the camera and criticized himself at appropriate times. That’s good. We appreciate that. But it still doesn’t change the fact that the Red Sox have extracted very little value from the part of this deal one would expect to be the most productive. David Price is only going to age from here on out. Generally, his performance is only going to trend downwards, just like any pitcher over the age of thirty. And if he’s already struggling to perform in Year One, the landscape is pretty scary moving forward.

While Price has accepted responsibility for his productivity, the wider public has been very lenient, perhaps to a fault. We’ve heard plenty of excuses. It was too cold. It was too windy. There’s something wrong with his mechanics. Enough already. David Price could be the nicest guy in the world, but he’s still not getting the job done with enough regularity. Therefore, it’s quite strange to see how little criticism he’s received. That may be a good thing, and a step in the right direction, but I can’t remember such an under-performing Boston star receiving this much support from the fans.

Hopefully that faith is rewarded. Hopefully David Price will rediscover his old delivery, his old strategy, his old magic. Hopefully the ace begins to deliver when it matters most, should October baseball return to Yawkey Way.

Post-Season Experience of David Price Will Be Key to Championship

Last fall I got the opportunity to ask David Price a question via teleconference shortly after he signed his seven-year $217 million contract. Price hesitated after I asked him “What’s a question about your career that one’s asked you that you wish someone would ask?” before he talked about the questions he gets from coaches and teammates alike when he’s on the mound, and how everything he does gets put under a microscope. “I know what kind of pitcher I was from 2008-2011,” he added, “past three seasons I’ve made a lot of strides to take it to where I want to be and I have a ways to go.” David Price

Simple, humble, and constructive.

There’s no doubt that Price will be under a lot of pressure this year, especially if the Red Sox make it to the post-season. A quick glance at his post-season record shows a less-than-stellar record (2-7 with a 5.12 ERA). But it’s hard to blame him for his poor post-season performance, especially if you take a good look at some of his more recent games. In Game 2 of the 2015 ALCS, Price, then with Toronto, held Kansas City scoreless until the seventh inning when shortstop Ryan Goins fumbled a routine pop-up, igniting a rally that ended in a 6-3 Royals win. In Game 3 of the 2014 ALDS vs. Baltimore, Price pitched 6 scoreless innings before giving up a 2-run home run to Nelson Cruz. That wasn’t poor pitching as much as Detroit failed to produce the offense Price needed to win. And while he did give up a home run to David Ortiz in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS in Boston, having his former adversary-turned-teammate at his side can now only be a boon to Price. But if the Red Sox can get it together season, Price will have an easier time avoiding anymore post-season blunders.

Will This Be the Best Year Ever for David Price?

The 5x All-Star, 2012 AL wins leader, 2014 strikeout leader, and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner will have a well-seasoned team behind him this season with some wondering if this could be Price’s best year yet (It better be given how much he’s getting paid). If Ortiz comes close to matching last season’s numbers, Boegarts continues to hit well, and Pedroia stays healthy, Price will have the offensive support he’ll need for a 20-win season. Price can also count on seeing a lot of hits die in the gloves of defensive prodigies Xander Boegarts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr.

I see David Price’s addition to the Red Sox as the missing piece of a puzzle that could very well make them into a semblance of the team we saw in 2004, 2007, and 2013. Even more so, the Red Sox Nation will have a man who’s worked hard to learn from his past mistakes, knows what he wants to accomplish this season, and recognizes that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to make that happen. If the Red Sox as a whole can keep themselves from sliding into an abyss of self-pity and remorse that fans saw all too often last season, if they can make fire out of the sparks that we hope to see this season, then we’ll see a team on fire, a blaze that can only be extinguished by the spraying champagne that will come after winning another World Series.

Red Sox Sign David Price to Historic Deal

According to multiple reports, the Boston Red Sox have finally captured their ace, with David Price signing a 7-year, $217 million contract to become the most expensive pitcher in baseball history.

Red Sox sign David Price

The Boston Globe broke the news on Tuesday night, heralding a fresh era for New England sports. After years of reticence to pay huge salaries to ageing pitchers, ownership has altered its philosophy, allowing Dave Dombrowski to consummate an historic deal. No Red Sox player has ever earned more than Price will, as his pact eclipses the 8-year, $160 million deal with Manny Ramirez in 2000.

This record-breaking deal includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, which could be beneficial for both sides, while the Red Sox smash through the luxury tax threshold with authority. Incidentally, Boston will now pay $140 million more to Price than what they offered Jon Lester in the run up to his free agency. Undoubtedly, that speaks to Dave Dombrowski’s roster-building aggression and his fresh power on Yawkey Way. This is now his team, and it will be managed in his win-now vision henceforth.

In Price, the Red Sox get the defining free agent of this stacked class. Through seven full seasons, the 30-year old has averaged 16 wins, 227 innings pitched and 216 strikeouts, to compliment a 3.09 ERA and 1.132 WHIP. In every way, he is the ace personified, a horse you can rely on for dominance and leadership. He’s another pivotal building block in Dombrowski’s revolution, joining Craig Kimbrel and the homegrown core of Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart.

Accordingly, genuine hope has been rekindled in Red Sox Nation, which can once again smell World Series contention after an inconsistent era. Work is still to be done, and nothing is ever certain in baseball, but with a warrior like David Price spearheading a revamped rotation, Boston’s most obvious weakness can almost be considered a strength, which is a testament to Dombrowski and his swift work.