You all know the David Price postseason narrative. If for some reason you need reminding, we’ve covered it before. The Price postseason narrative is now dead in the ground. The monkey is off his back, all the pages that made up the narrative have been set on fire, and even Price’s loudest haters are ready to help discard the evidence of it ever existing if it means they can pretend they never had a doubt in the world about the Boston ace.
Price didn’t just pitch in two World Series games in 2018: he got a taste for victory in the American League Championship Series against the Astros for the first time in his postseason career, and now he can’t stop. Price wanted to be involved in every moment of the World Series against the Dodgers that manager Alex Cora would allow, and with Chris Sale ailing from both a stomach malady and a shoulder issue that limited just how much he had left to give the Sox, Cora would accept the help.
Price pitched Game 2, going six innings while allowing just two runs, picking up his second career postseason W as a starter and his first-ever World Series win to boot. That wasn’t enough for him: he told Cora he was ready to go in Game 3 as a reliever if necessary, on one day’s rest — the travel day — and it turned out that yes, Price was necessary: he faced three batters, retiring two of them, to help the Red Sox bridge to Craig Kimbrel in a tie game.
Boston would eventually lose in extra innings on a Max Muncy dinger in the 18th against Nathan Eovaldi, who was approaching 100 pitches in relief at the time. Eovaldi was supposed to be the Game 4 starter: now that he wasn’t available, Price let Cora know he was willing to be the opener for the Red Sox on Saturday, despite pitching the night before, despite that relief appearance coming two days after a start in which he threw 88 pitches.
Price didn’t pitch in Game 4 — though, he did warm up in relief — and he started Game 5 in place of Sale on just three days rest. Price kept offering himself up to Cora and his teammates, and a need arose for him to step up as offered. Sale’s shoulder was at the point where he had just one outing left in him, and the Sox didn’t want to use it in Los Angeles, where he’d have to hit and the temptation to pinch-hit for him would exist.
No, the Sox wanted to save Sale for a potential Game 6 back in Boston, where the Red Sox could have their best defensive alignment behind him and not have to worry about pitchers hitting. That meant Price was in line to start, and he was more than up to the challenge. The lefty allowed a leadoff homer to David Freese, but that was it: he allowed just four more baserunners total through seven innings of work, struck out five Dodgers, and walked away from the mound with the Sox leading 5-1. Sale would get a chance to close the game out, and it was all because Price dominated — and picked up another postseason win, the most important of his career both now and maybe forever, because it’s the one that clinched a World Series title.
88 pitches in Game 2. 13 pitches in Game 3. Warming up in Game 4. Tossing another 89 over seven-plus frames in Game 5. Price always bragged about how he was rubber armed and not worried about his workload, and he put that brag to use right after winning his first-ever postseason start just one series ago.
Starting Price made the most sense for the Red Sox strategically with Sale in the condition he’s in, but it was also the best possible story the Red Sox and Price could tell. In the ALDS, even the most ardent supporters of Price were having a difficult time: there was still hope he’d stop being a completely different pitcher in the postseason and just be David Price instead, but that hope was ever-shrinking. Price pitched well in the ALCS agains the Astros but didn’t get the win in his first start of that series, then went toe-to-toe with Justin by God Verlander in what would end up being the final game of the ALCS, picking up a win to eliminate the defending champions and move the Red Sox on to the World Series.
Capping that off with a performance in the World Series that absolutely merits the Most Valuable Player award was the only merciful way for this to end for the Red Sox. It’s a shame Price came up against Kershaw and his own up-and-down postseason narrative in the process — you knew someone had to lose here, and in a way neither fan base or pitcher wanted — but baseball has always been cruel like that. Just ask David Price how it is that everything feels so good, so right, now that baseball’s cruelty has forgotten he exists.
Briefly? For good? It barely matters right now: David Price led the Red Sox to the World Series, and then told them all to get on his back at every opportunity once they were in the Fall Classic. He’s got a few wins where there were once a debilitating absence of them, and he’ll have a ring full of diamonds for his finger come April, too.