The Boston Red Sox just completed a three-game sweep of the hated New York Yankees, so all’s well in Red Sox Nation—at least for the moment. The team stands at 15-10 heading into a Midwest showdown with the Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox, the Sox’ pale hose brothers.
I’ve written about the team’s foibles in signing pitchers for extravagant sums of money, in the past. When Boston’s ownership does these kind of things, the results are usually less-than-stellar. Last year, it was Rick Porcello. This year’s big free agent acquisition, David Price, has looked a lot like Wade Miley, a left-handed retread that couldn’t get anyone out last April. Interestingly, if you compare Miley and Price in side-by-side statistical comparisons after six starts, Miley’s numbers are slightly better at this point in the season. Here’s a look at how they compare using ERA. Miley is actually at 84 and Price at 97. I’m guessing that when the Sox forked out the kind of money that most people won’t earn over a lifetime of working, they didn’t expect he’d be near the bottom of MLB’s pitchers in performance.
I don’t mean to demean Miley. He’s a journeyman left-hander who will usually give a team 200+ serviceable innings when all’s said and done at the end of another 162-game campaign. He’s just not the kind of pitcher that will ever be considered a team’s ace. That’s what Price was supposed to be when Boston signed him for $217 million during the winter.
Price has been terribly inconsistent and at times, awful, in five of his six starts. He’s been hit hard, and his velocity is down. Of course, like all baseball-related news in Beantown, the powers that be with the Red Sox have downplayed this. Dave Dombrowski, the new GM, was quoted as saying that he’s not too concerned because “all pitcher’s velocity is down in April.” I beg to differ, Dave. Have you ever heard of a pitcher named Noah Syndergaard, aka, Thor, who also pitches in cold-weather New York? His velocity has consistently been hitting 98 and 99 in all of his April starts. There are plenty other hard-throwing pitchers not affected by April cold. Oh, and Price’s uneven performance on Sunday night at Fenway brings the pitcher’s woes into the month of May. Still no sign of the old Price velocity numbers.
Perhaps Price will fix whatever’s not right. Maybe it’s a mechanical thing. Or, he might be just like other high-priced players who came to Boston from other places not quite as mad about baseball, and we’ll find out he’s never going to be a good fit for a city that expects their aces to pitch like aces, not left-handed punching bags.
Of course, we can look back to the not-too-distant past and recall a pitcher coming to Boston and leading a team to the World Series. No, not Pedro Martinez. The name would be, Curt Schilling.
Granted, Schilling’s become somewhat of a persona non grata given his political views and run-ins with ESPN. But damn, in 2004, Schilling (and Pedro) teamed up to be the kind of one-two pitching punch that Boston’s not seen the likes of, since. Schilling won 21 games that year and Martinez, 15. Schilling was runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award. Who will ever forget Schilling’s “bloody sock”? Actually, ESPN would love us all to forget we ever knew Mr. Schilling. The sports network has tried to “white out” all Schilling references, including this latest shenanigan. But back to scuffling David Price.
Maybe three months from now, Price will have regained some velocity and he’ll be pitching like he has in the past with Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Toronto. I certainly hope so.
Otherwise, this team is doomed for another lackluster season, their third one in a row. If that happens, Boston fans will be wishing that they kept Miley, or another lefty having a better early-season run than Price, like former Sox player, Rich Hill, who signed with Oakland.