Posted on September 14, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Despite a season that’s been plagued by elbow trouble, David Price is returning to the Boston Red Sox for the stretch run. The Red Sox activated Price from the DL on Thursday. However, his role with the team for the rest of the season and in the postseason remains unclear.
Price began the season on the DL after experiencing elbow discomfort early in spring training. He didn’t make his season debut until late May. After making 11 starts, Price was once again sent to the DL in late July because of a balky elbow. Six weeks later, Price has once again returned from the DL and is hoping to contribute to the Red Sox down the stretch.
The Red Sox chose to activate Price one day after he threw three innings in a simulated game. Price’s elbow responded well to the outing, so the Red Sox felt confident in activating him from the DL. However, Red Sox manager John Farrell says the team still hasn’t discussed how Price will be used over the final two and a half weeks of the regular season.
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“Let’s face it, right now, after the two sim games, he’s thrown the ball very encouraging,” Farrell said. “He’s come out of it feeling good physically, so there’s no statement on what he’s going to be doing as of this moment. We’ve got to sit and talk with him and map out what’s next.”
Farrell says that Price would need to throw at least one more simulated game if he were to rejoin Boston’s rotation. That would only leave Price enough time to make one or two starts before the end of the regular season. In just two starts, it would be difficult for the Red Sox to determine if he’s ready to pitch in the postseason. The Red Sox also don’t have a huge need for another starter right now. After some initial struggles, Doug Fister has done a fine job of filling the final spot in Boston’s rotation.
The other option is moving Price to the bullpen. Including the postseason, Price has 11 career relief appearances. But almost all of them came during his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. Moving to the bullpen could be a tough adjustment for Price at this point. However, Farrell recognizes that a pitcher like Price with the ability to pitch multiple innings could be a great asset in the playoffs.
“I think what we’ve seen in past postseasons is that there’s a pitcher, whoever that pitcher has become, there’s been a multi-inning pitcher in there that has made major contributions,” said Farrell.
It may also be pertinent to take into account Price’s uneven history in the postseason. He gave up five runs in 3.1 innings during his only postseason start last season. He also posted a 6.17 ERA in 23.1 innings with the Blue Jays during the 2015 postseason. Having him pitch in relief could put Price in a better position to succeed during the playoffs.
For the most part, Boston’s rotation has managed without Price for much of the year. Chris Sale is the undisputed ace, with Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Rick Porcello giving the Red Sox solid depth. In the bullpen, Price could potentially become a key figure in front of closer Craig Kimbrel. The Red Sox also have solid setup men in Brandon Workman, Addison Reed, Fernando Abad, and Joe Kelly.
At this point, Price may not care all that much how the Red Sox use him. After making just 11 starts this season because of injuries, Price just wants to pitch and find a way to help the Red Sox down the stretch.
“Threw 40-some odd pitches today. Felt good. Felt strong at the end,” Price said after Wednesday’s simulated game. “It’s not my decision to make. I just want to pitch, whatever (role) it is.”