They know David Price pretty well in Toronto.
Not only will the new Red Sox ace be returning to the place he called home for a few months last season when Boston faces off against the defending American League East champs this weekend, he’ll also be the reason why the Sox just might challenge them for that title in 2016.
Price has dominated the Blue Jays like no other team in his career, going 16-2 against them with a 2.41 ERA. Toronto batters have historically hit only .226 against the lefty.
He’s made 15 starts at Rogers Centre, where he is a nifty 11-1 with a 3.34 ERA. He has 95 career strikeouts north of the border, the most in any visiting ballpark.
So, the fact that Price was slated to pitch Sunday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series certainly seemed likely to provide an encouraging harbinger of how the division might shake out.
“Everything slides back a day,” manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians were rained out Thursday night. “That puts David Price in the opener back in Boston.”
“He’s going to be out there every fifth day regardless of what the schedule might do,” Farrell said, in announcing that his $217 million guy will, in fact, pitch on five days rest.
“It’ll be a treat for our fans to see him on Opening Day.”
Just when you thought Farrell’s ability to bench Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo was a signal that the Red Sox’ marketing department had taken a back seat to winning baseball games, the news of Price being pushed to Monday calls the manager’s clout into question.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright will get the call instead on Sunday. Wright has never pitched in Toronto. He has a 3.86 ERA against the Jays in seven innings pitched.
Of course, this move defies Farrell’s statements about Price pitching every fifth day, no matter what. After beating the Indians on Opening Day, Price was set to get the nod in Toronto on regular rest.
Perfect. All up against a team he has devoured on a regular basis.
Alas. I know team owner John Henry said the Red Sox would be depending less on certain analytics this season, but this is ridiculous.
If you have a guy who is 16-2 against a team, and he’s scheduled to pitch against them, you pitch him.
Why is this so difficult to understand? Pity if the Jays beat the Sox in the East by one game the team might have surrendered the first week of April.
The flip side of the argument is that Farrell feels the need to get Wright a start, a luxury that a fifth starter isn’t normally assured by nature. Wright is also making $514,000. Price makes that amount in less than five innings of work.
Can anyone guess which one is the cardinal member of the Red Sox rotation?
Granted, Price is 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA at Fenway Park over his career, but let’s not be foolish enough to buy into that being the reasoning behind the decision. By having Price pitch in the Fenway opener against the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox brass have an event that goes a lot further with the wine and cheese crowd than his originally scheduled weekend start would. You don’t want those fine, influential folks who might be inking their signatures on some valuable advertising contracts going home with the taste of Clay Buchholz in their chardonnay-infused mouths, do you?
The 3-0 Orioles were in the top 10 in batting last season, but the Blue Jays figure to wallop in much the same fashion they did last year (891 runs, .797 OPS). Baltimore was a .500 team in 2015 while the Blue Jays won 93 games. The Jays are the favorite to win the division again this season. The Orioles are not.
Farrell won the public relations vs. on-field worth battle with the decision he and Dave Dombrowski made to insert Brock Holt/Chris Young and Travis Shaw in their places. It sure looks like he lost this one.
Oh, just for the record, Rick Porcello, Saturday’s scheduled starter against the Jays, is 1-5 with a 7.39 ERA in his career at Rogers Centre. If Farrell really felt the inherent need to get Wright a start somewhere soon, there was another avenue that could have been taken.
Then again, it’ll be pretty cool to watch Price at Fenway on Monday. Pass the brie.
Red Sox 2016 prospects