David Price: 'I know I can pitch in the postseason'
David Price has a career 5.06 ERA in the postseason, but he isn't worried about being able to help the Tigers in October.
David Price will make his first start for the Tigers on Tuesday night, but Detroit didn't acquire him in a three-team trade with the Rays and Mariners for the regular season. They already have a comfortable five-game lead in the AL Central.
No, the Tigers swung the trade for Price because they want him for the postseason. Detroit has gone to the ALCS in each of the past three years, including winning the 2012 AL pennant, but it has been unable to bring home a World Series title despite an impressive collection of talent.
Price comes to the Tigers with a 5.06 ERA in 32 career playoff innings, and while that might scare some fans, the left-hander isn't at all concerned about his October struggles. Here's what he told Ashley Dunkak of CBS Detroit:
"I know I can pitch in the postseason," Price said. "I did it when I was a rookie in 2008 when I had no idea about major league baseball, really, and I was facing good teams at that time. Came in this park with bases loaded, facing Miguel, I think I was facing two, three, four in that lineup and got through it, so that was a big moment for me right there, and I look forward to keep on building.
"I haven't had a whole lot of postseason starts," Price added later. "I don't know how many starts it is, I know Game 163 last year didn't count, but that was, that's a Game 5 or a Game 7 of the postseason because if you lose that game you go home. I know I faced Texas quite a few times, and that is a team that I can't stand facing. They know that. That's a park I really struggle to pitch in, but I know I can pitch in the postseason."
Price threw a two-run complete-game in the Game 163 tiebreaker against the Rangers last season, pushing the Rays into the second AL wild-card spot. So no, technically it was not a postseason game, but come on. It was win or go home. That's a playoff game in my book.
After coming up in 2008, Price worked out of the bullpen for the Rays during their march to the AL pennant that postseason, allowing two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings. He closed out Tampa Bay's win over the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS, pitching out of an inherited bases loaded, two outs jam in the eighth before closing it out in the ninth.
Here is Price's postseason record as a starting pitcher:
|6||2010||ALDS g1||Oct 6||TEX||L,1-5||GS-7||L(0-1)||6.2||9||5||4||0||8||2||5.40||107||77|
|7||2010||ALDS g5||Oct 12||TEX||L,1-5||GS-6||L(0-2)||6.0||8||3||3||0||6||0||4.97||104||68|
|8||2011||ALDS g3||Oct 3||TEX||L,3-4||GS-7||L(0-1)||6.2||7||3||3||1||3||1||4.05||102||64|
|9||2013||ALDS g2||Oct 5||@||BOS||L,4-7||GS-8||L(0-1)||7.0||9||7||7||2||5||2||9.00||102||68|
That's not good at all, but what 24-25-year-old David Price did against those offensive juggernaut Texas Rangers teams in 2010-11 hardly has any affect on what 28-year-old Price will do in the postseason for the Tigers in 2014. He's a different pitcher now -- better because he's more experienced with improved command of his high-end stuff.
"I'm commanding the strike zone at a rate I really never have," Price said. "Strike one, throwing strikes, I know I throw a lot of strikes. If it's 0-2, I'm not trying to get a guy out of the strike zone. Doing that, the hitters, they definitely know that, so 0-0, I'm getting swings, 0-1. Guys are trying to not just put the ball in play, they're trying to force early action, and that's what I want."
Price is a truly great pitcher, one of the best in baseball, and there is little reason to think he won't carry his regular season excellence into the postseason. He has been pitching in pressure-packed games for a contending team his entire career. The playoff type atmosphere is nothing new to him.