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What does Blue Jays loss tell us about David Price?

kmatheson12
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It seems as if the Toronto Blue Jays are living life on repeat. Another series, another 0-2 deficit and another uneven start from staff ace David Price. So here we gather again, left to digest the rubble and what it all means.

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After allowing a hit on the first pitch of the game, Price fell into an absolutely dominant groove. This left the Blue Jays up 3-0 entering the 7th, which is when the wheels came off. After an easy fly ball fell in between Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista, well, you know the rest. While that run can’t be slapped on Price, the hits that came behind it can, and they erased much of the confidence he’d inspired through the early innings. Price finished with 6.2 inning pitched, allowing five earned runs on six hits.

Batted ball luck and the third-time-throgh argument have a place here, but I don’t feel they hold enough weight guide the whole narrative. In fact, Price’s numbers in his third trip through the order this season have been very strong. There’s a case to be made, however, that he’s been Toronto’s least effective starting pitcher through seven playoff games.

I don’t think this is indicative of Price shrinking in the spotlight. He’s had quality starts in the playoffs before, and by now, we’ve all heard the anecdote of Randy Johnson‘s playoff struggles that eventually ended in him winning game seven of the World Series. If anything changes here, it could be that John Gibbons is more likely to use Price in relief.

If Toronto is able to force a fifth game, Price would still be on short rest and the likely starter would be Marco Estrada. Would Price, then, be available to follow R.A. Dickey in some fashion during game four? Making a relief appearance on short rest would not be as worrying, and the dramatic change in velocities could benefit the Jays. This strategy didn’t have the greatest results against Texas, but it’s a move Gibbons has already made. If not, perhaps he’s available to follow Estrada.

This would present a situation where a potential sixth game would see a starter taking the mound on short rest, but I believe that Gibbons’ strategy will be to win any elimination games at all costs, then make due with what is left. As it should be. Besides, Aaron Loup wasn’t exactly resembling an MLB pitcher on the mound tonight.

Price did show in this start that there’s nothing wrong with his stuff. There never has been, and perhaps the other three starters performing well is a more important storyline than Price shuffling his feet. If Toronto were leading this series 2-0, Price is a bullet to save, but in the hunt just to stay alive, we could see Gibbons emptying the chamber.

Doing so would bring on the endless hot takes on how that hurts the Jays’ chances at re-signing Price, but again, this is about winning in the now. I’d expect Gibbons to address the issue with an answer involving classics such as “thats just the way things go” and “we’ll see what happens”, but we’re firmly back in a grey area with David Price.

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