After two tumultuous seasons to start his Red Sox career, David Price looks poised to earn his $30 million annual salary after a strong Spring Training. Price tossed three innings in his final exhibition tune-up and struck out four Twins while allowing just one hit and one run. He pitched to a 2.25 ERA in three spring starts.
“Every five days, I felt better and better,” Price told MLB.com. “To me, this has been the best I’ve felt for an entire Spring Training and I’m excited for Friday.”
Friday marks game two of the regular season, which Price is slated to start against the Rays. Even a mediocre outing against his former team would mark a better beginning than 2017, as Price wasn’t able to pitch until May 29 due to an elbow injury. Initial results were mixed until he settled into a groove in July, but he would land on the DL again after a rough start on July 22 and would be relegated to a bullpen role from mid-September to the end of the year.
Price also landed in hot water on June 29 after berating former Red Sox great and current NESN broadcaster Dennis Eckersley after Eckersley criticized Eduardo Rodriguez, Price’s teammate. The situation stirred up plenty of bad blood, but Price could stem the tide if he stays healthy and pitches to his career bests in 2018.
Price is a former Cy Young winner (2012) and was signed to a seven-year, $217 million contract after a 2015 campaign in which he went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA. Additionally, he’ll have the benefit of Chris Sale, the undisputed ace on the staff, taking some of the tougher starting matchups as new manager Alex Cora’s number-one option.
Sale, last year’s leader in strikeouts, looked well on his way to earning the 2017 AL Cy Young but struggled a bit down the stretch, enabling Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA) to swipe it after a phenomenal final few starts.
Here’s how Sale and Price stack up against some of the best starting tandems in the game.
Astros: Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel
The 2017 World Series champs added Gerrit Cole in the offseason, but 2011 Cy Young winner Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA) and 2015 Cy Young winner Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA) will take the mound first and second, respectively.
Indians: Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco
The aforementioned 2017 AL Cy Young winner hands the ball off to Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA in 2017) for the second game of the season. Kluber was third in strikeouts last year, while Carrasco was seventh.
Cubs: Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks
Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana comprise a daunting one-two punch of their own, but Lester and Hendricks will take the mound for games one and two, respectively. They posted some shaky results in 2017 (Lester was 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA while Hendricks went 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA and missed time due to injury), but both were Cy Young finalists in 2016 (Lester was 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA while Hendricks went 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA).
Mets: Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom
Syndergaard (2.89 career ERA) and deGrom (2.98 career ERA) could be the cornerstones to another deep playoff run, if the Mets can avoid their usual plague of injuries.