Red Sox

Drellich: Red Sox season hinges on new father Price

Drellich: Red Sox season hinges on new father Price


OAKLAND — The calamities of Hector Velazquez and Kyle Kendrick return us to the big picture, which has been unchanged since spring training.

The 2017 Red Sox season hinges on David Price.

Depth and roster building are all concerns for the Red Sox. They need better back-end starters, which is the responsibility of the front office. But if you start ignoring the margins and the smaller-value choices, the concept is simple. It always has been. 

The Sox lost David Ortiz, they added Chris Sale, and then they lost Price. Those are huge pieces, players worth four or five wins above replacement in a full season.

Forget the Velazquezs of the world. Forget the trade market, where the Sox will have to be active but are restricted by three things: their own prospect pool, the fact they'll probably have multiple needs and the luxury-tax threshold.

There's no one like Price coming from the outside.

“David Price is elite,” Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said Thursday night. “And you know he’s been that way for a long time. He had a very good year for us last year (17-9, 3.99 ERA). And if we get that guy back, we’re getting a front-line, elite-caliber starter. Those guys are hard to find. 

“You insert him in a rotation that has Chris Sale, has Rick Porcello, Eddie Rodriguez coming [along], which he is. It’s a huge difference-maker. And it’s a huge difference-maker for the bullpen as well.”

On Friday, the lefty is slated to make his first minor league rehab start as he comes back from an elbow injury. It’s an outing loaded with symbolism shortly after the birth of his first child. Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, one of Price’s great friends, tweeted on Friday morning that Price and wife Tiffany welcomed a baby boy, Xavier. Price confirmed the news in a tweet later on Friday. (It's unclear what day Xavier was born.)

With still many hours to go before Friday's game with Triple-A Pawtucket in Buffalo, there was no indication Price’s status for the start had changed. (Of course, it could before first pitch.)

The motivation for Price may skyrocket even further now, the story and reward of his potential return multitudes sweeter.

A year prior to Velazquez’s major league debut Thursday night, Price made his second start of the 2016 season for the Sox. Or more accurately, his second start in the stretch that was representative of how good he can be and, in fact, was last year.

He allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings vs. the defending world-champion Royals last May 18. From May 12 last year through the end of the regular season, Price had a 3.39 ERA in 188 2/3 innings pitched. 

X-factors are generally silly ideas because they assume a lot else goes right. With Price, let’s make that assumption. Let’s presume that Sale stays healthy and so does Dustin Pedroia.

The Sox will still be decent, still have a chance if Price doesn’t make it back healthy, or if he's ineffective. As bad as third base has been, there have been gains elsewhere. Steven Wright is gone for the season, but look at Joe Kelly's progress in the bullpen. Maybe Rafael Devers has two great months to finish the year.

But it’s all kind of minor by comparison when talking about what the Sox can do differently from here. The difference between the middling performance the Sox are showing now and something greater is Price.

The Baseball Show Podcast: How should Red Sox be using Craig Kimbrel?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

The Baseball Show Podcast: How should Red Sox be using Craig Kimbrel?

Here is The Baseball Show Podcast, brought to you by Twin River Casino.

1:11 - Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni break down the Red Sox most recent loss to the Oakland Athletics and debate how Alex Cora should be using Craig Kimbrel.

7:28 - With Mookie Betts off to a roaring start to the season, Lou and Evan are left wondering if he has reverted to his 2016 form or if he'll fall off as the season progresses.

12:13 - With the weather wreaking havoc on teams' schedules in April, Lou and Evan look at some potential adjustments the league could make to the schedule: less games, more double headers and even longer playoffs.

Khris Davis homers off Price in 8th, A's top Red Sox

Khris Davis homers off Price in 8th, A's top Red Sox

Khris Davis hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer off David Price with two outs in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 on Sunday.

A day after getting no-hit by Sean Manaea, Boston lost back-to-back games for the first time under new manager Alex Cora.

The Red Sox had won their first six series this season before dropping two of three at the Coliseum. They still have the best record in the majors at 17-4.

Davis had two hits and drove in all four runs for the A's. Marcus Semien and Stephen Piscotty added two hits apiece as Oakland won for the sixth time in seven games.

Semien and Piscotty hit back-to-back singles off Price (2-2) with one out in the eighth. After Jed Lowrie struck out for the third time, Davis lined the first pitch into the seats in left field for his sixth home run.

Davis also had an RBI single off Price in the first.

Price allowed nine hits and four runs over 7 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one.

Coming off Manaea's gem, the A's got another strong pitching performance against the hard-hitting Red Sox. Daniel Mengden gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings and Blake Treinen (1-1), Oakland's third reliever, retired five batters to win.

Treinen appeared to injure his left ankle while fielding Blake Swinhart's comebacker but remained in the game and got Christian Vazquez to fly out to end it.

Mitch Moreland had two hits and Brock Holt drove in Boston's lone run.

Mengden allowed a pair of first-inning singles, then retired 16 of 17 before yielding back-to-back hits in the seventh. He left after giving up Holt's tying RBI double in the seventh.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP Bobby Poyner was activated off the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. He had been out with a left hamstring strain.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-0, 1.40) pitches the opener of a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday. He has thrown 13 consecutive scoreless innings over his previous two starts.

Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill (1-0, 0.00) makes his second start of the season Monday at Texas. It's the first time this season that the A's will leave the West Coast.

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