While it’s a long way away, and no guarantee to even happen, the Red Sox could be faced with a one-game, Wild Card play-in game to get in the American League divisional series in about two months.
When the Sox signed David Price last offseason, it seemed like a no-brainer he would start any such game. Now, five months into his a career as a Red Sox, that isn’t such a lock.
It needs to be noted things could change where pitchers cannot even be considered for the game because of how the regular season ends and who pitched when, but if everyone was available, Rick Porcello should get the ball and start the game.
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Porcello has been the Red Sox’ most consistent pitcher to this point in the year and gives his team a chance to win every time he takes to the mound. The right-hander is 14-3 on the year with a 3.46 ERA. He also has thrown a complete-game in each of his last two starts. The only other Red Sox players in the last 20 seasons (1997-2016) to record complete games in consecutive starts are Tim Wakefield, Pedro Martinez, and Josh Beckett. Additionally, the only other MLB pitchers to accomplish the feat in 2016 are Chris Sale and Johnny Cueto.
Price has just been too inconsistent and has had too many poor outings that he just can’t be counted on in such a meaningful game at this point in the year. Going into his start Sunday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers - in six of his 23 starts, he’s given up five or more runs. While most of those occurred early on the season, that just cannot happen in such a meaningful game.
Another trait Porcello has is his competitiveness, which was on full display in his last start in Seattle when manager John Farrell wanted to take him out after the seventh inning, but cameras showed Porcello pleading with Farrell to leave him in for the eighth, which he did. It’s always a good thing when your top pitcher is also the most competitive.
Having Porcello start a potential play-in game would be a bold move, but Farrell and the Red Sox have showed they don’t have allegiances to certain players based on contracts and reputation, which began in spring training with Travis Shaw winning the starting third base job over Pablo Sandoval.
Rick Porcello has been the Red Sox’ ace this year, and deserves to be treated like one.