By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
David Price has found himself in another post season where he hasn’t fared very well. And it has become a head scratcher. How can a pitcher who was so dominant in the regular season, struggle so often in the post season?
How will teams view his post season performance when evaluating whether to sign him?
David Price may not be deserving of a contract some of the other high performing pitchers have signed. Do teams want a guy they can’t count on in October?
This is a great topic and our writers could go in any direction with the following questions.
1. Why do you think David Price is not successful in the post-season?
Kurt – It wasn’t until this year’s playoffs that the word ‘ambush’ came into play. We have heard it often referring to hitters jumping on the first fastball they see.
Hitters are finding that their chances are better if they don’t necessarily work the count because it has been to the pitchers’ advantage when they get ahead, which they often do.
This has been the case with David Price and Jake Arrieta recently as hitters are not waiting for their pitch. They know it’s already coming. And Price in particular is one of the those pitchers who likes to get ahead, likes to pitch to contact and is not afraid to throw strikes.
It’s why he gives up a fair amount of home runs but at the same time he is still successful, until the playoffs that is. He has run into some teams who have been very aggressive at the plate and they aren’t waiting on him. It has done them no good to wait for him to get ahead and then be pretty much at his mercy.
So Price has been “ambushed” often, thus the struggles in the post season.
Holly – There are two factors – the first addressing the issue of facing better offensive teams.
Price’s stats show he’s become a better pitcher than he was with the Rays in terms of pitch arsenal and speed. But now that he’s a familiar entity in the AL, batters have gotten to know him and his habits. The teams he’s faced in the playoffs have records of hitting in-zone fastballs exceptionally well, which is how he gets ahead of batters before finishing them off with his change-up.
Combine that factor with the mental aspect. Price is a likeable, even-keeled guy – he never makes a scene or appears angry. His difficulties with Brad Ausmus all of last year were not widely on exhibit during games – unlike Justin Verlander’s.
And that may be the problem. We watch pitchers like Justin Verlander, John Lackey and Madison Bumgarner who take playoff pitching to a new level with their palpable mental tenacity. Like Clayton Kershaw, David Price simply may not have the ability to throw a switch and ratchet up the intensity to match the energy level required in the playoffs.
2. Given his post-season performance history, are teams hoping to be in contention, wise to offer David Price a contract similar to Kershaw’s or Scherzer’s?
Kurt – Ironically enough, these 2 pitchers, Kershaw and Scherzer, haven’t exactly been on fire in the post season either. They have had occasional outings that you could call dominating, but their stats don’t scream ‘unhittable.’
And come to think of it, what have the Dodgers and Nationals gained by signing Kershaw and Scherzer to these huge contracts? There is a team in Detroit that knows all about this. Sure, the deals have gained them no-hitters and Cy Young Awards, but no titles.
So should Price be a candidate for the same kind of money? Well, I guess, yes! He’s won a Cy Young, continually ranks in the same company with both of those guys in wins and strikeouts every season and all 3 have varying degrees of inconsistency in the post season, with only occasional success.
So I guess David Price deserves everything he’s got coming to him, right? At least he will think so when he gets it, which he will.
Holly – It’s a double-edged sword with David Price. You sign an ace to pitch you into contention but once you’re in the playoffs, that ace has to take the lead and start more games than anyone else in the rotation.
Is a team really going to pay him the expected $200 million or more and only get the desired results in-season? It’s highly unlikely any team will sit someone making that amount of money in the playoffs. Instead, isn’t he the ace who is supposed to take you all the way to that parade down the grand boulevard?
Price has been unable to do it for three teams now – the Rays, Tigers and Blue Jays – with a record of 2W/7L and a whopping 5.24 ERA. Already 30, what are the chances he’ll find the answer at age 31, 32 or 33? I think we all know the answer to that one.
If a team is going to spring for him, they need to be one with a deep rotation and a solid bullpen. Other starters who can step in if need be and relievers who can hold it together for multiple innings but ironically, those are the teams least in need.