Is David Price building a case for Dodgers postseason roster spot?
Remember when it seems like David Price was going to go down as arguably the most wasteful trade acquisition in Los Angeles Dodgers history? Well, turns out he’s experiencing a renaissance in a contract year.
Of Dodgers relievers who have pitched in 30 or more games, Price has the second-best ERA (2.51), second-best ERA+ (167) and best walk rate (1.9 BB/9). He’s struck out 34 batters in 32.1 innings of work and has lowered his FIP to a respectable 3.27.
Are we … looking at a postseason bullpen option for the Dodgers with Walker Buehler officially out until 2023? LA’s bullpen has taken countless hits this year, from Blake Treinen to Brusdar Graterol to Victor Gonzalez to Tommy Kahnle to Phil Bickford’s massive regression.
And given that the Dodgers attempted to pick up a number of other veteran relievers over the summer, which has not changed the calculus of the MLB bullpen whatsoever, Price might be relied upon come October. He can be used on a multi-inning basis because of his experience as a starter for most of his career.
On Monday night, Price shut the door on the Milwaukee Brewers to seal a 4-0 victory in the series opener. He hasn’t given up a run since July 12 and Monday was his third straight relief appearance that had stakes attached to it.
Should David Price be a contributor for the Dodgers in the postseason?
Prior to this season, Price’s tenure in LA was marked by disappointment. He opted out of their 2020 World Series run due to concerns about the pandemic. But upon his return, he wasn’t stretched out enough to contribute in the manner perhaps the Dodgers had preferred. Heading into 2021, the left-hander had just thrown 107.1 innings since the start of 2019.
Last year, he appeared in 39 games, starting 11 and finishing 5 (what?) and ended with a 4.03 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 1.43 WHIP and 58 strikeouts across 73.2 innings of work. Bad.
Then, heading into the 2022 campaign, Price was seemingly getting himself started off on the wrong foot when he “wasn’t built up” at the end of March to even appear in spring training games! His first came on March 30, which was just over a week before the regular season began. What was going on?
Guess it doesn’t matter! Price is a rock solid bullpen option and has an arsenal of five pitches he’s largely been effective using in 2022 (though his sinker and changeup have been getting tagged quite often). Still, his four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, changeup and curveball make up a tremendous mix to throw hitters off if utilized correctly.
Throw in Price’s 23 games of postseason experience (4.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 91 strikeouts in 99.1 innings pitched) — though not exactly the greatest — and he’d perhaps be a bit more reliable in a lower-leverage relief role rather than as a top-rotation starter constantly in the spotlight. With just 32.1 innings under his belt, too, maybe this was the plan all along. Now, he’ll be well-rested for October baseball.