Really, David Price in Boston is a good thing

Bill Foley
Contributing Writer

Maybe he remembers Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series.

That’s when 22-year-old David Price got the last four outs of Tampa Bay’s 3-1 win over the Red Sox, ending Boston’s hope of back-to-back World Series titles.

Maybe it is that Price gave up five earned runs in 3.1 innings in his only postseason start for the Red Sox. 

Maybe it’s that Price is a career 2-8 pitcher with a 5.52 ERA in the postseason.

Maybe it was his 1-3 record and 7.94 ERA against the Yankees last season.
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Whatever the reason, my dad just could not seem to enjoy seeing Price put up zero after zero in his best start of the season Tuesday night.

While Andrew Benintendi was stealing the show in a big way, one of the best signs from Boston’s sixth straight win was that the big lefty seems to be pitching like David Price again.

If his performance against the Rangers doesn’t have you feeling good about the surging Red Sox, there is something wrong. But even as Price was striking out nine Rangers, my dad was lamenting about how horrible the pitcher was for the Red Sox in 2016.

“He was the physical sh--s,” my dad said, sending me to Baseball Reference to try to shoot down that silly assertion.

While his season was a bit of a disappointment when you factor in our huge expectations based on Price’s track record and his $30 million salary, the numbers just don’t lie. Price pitching in Boston was a good thing last season.

It could also be a very, very good thing this season.

Price made 35 starts in 2016, posting a 17-9 record with a 3.99 ERA. He pitched 230 innings, which is an average of nearly seven innings per start. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 228-50.

Sure, those numbers might not be Cy Young worthy, but Price was right next to Rick Porcello when it comes to major reasons why the Red Sox won the American League East.

While $30 million should get you more than an inning eater, Price won some big games while consistently resetting the bullpen start after start in 2016.

Watching him deal against some pretty powerful bats on the Fourth of July has to give Red Sox fans hope that he will at least do the same in the second half of 2017.

“Yeah,” may dad said, acknowledging Price's stats were, in fact, pretty sold, “I don’t like him.”

Not many Red Sox fans liked Price when he pitched for Joe Maddon’s Rays. Nobody liked him when he picked a fight with David Ortiz. We definitely couldn’t stand him when he was getting lit up by the Yankees.

Price hasn’t helped himself with his recent spat with the media. Following his extended absence because of an elbow injury, Price sparred with the media and now will only talk to reporters on days that he pitches.

Whether Price thinks he is being a team leader and sticking up for teammates who are often treated unfairly by the media or Price is just a jerk, it is never a good idea to pick a fight with people who, as they say, buy ink by the barrel.

Right or wrong, that is a fight you can never win — especially when one of those fights was with a Hall of Famer on the team plane.

It’s OK if our pitchers are jerks, as long as they win. After all, Red Sox Nation did put up with Curt Schilling for five years.

It doesn’t matter if the writers dislike Price, and it doesn’t matter if the pitcher can’t stand Dennis Eckersley. Red Sox fans, though, should absolutely love the Price we saw pitch into the seventh inning of the Independence Day victory in Texas.

We shouldn’t even let the fact that he left the game after 106 pitches with a blister or fingernail issue put a damper on the night.

Price could go a long way toward gaining the favor of Red Sox fans if he can somehow shutdown Aaron Judge and the Yankees in the first series after the All-Star break.

But until he beats the Yankees a few times and musters up at least on playoff win, those other numbers just won’t matter. My dad’s opinion will continue to be widely shared by Red Sox fans.

They just won’t like him.

Follow Bill Foley on Twitter — @Foles74