David Price

Paul Rutherford/USA Today Sports

Cora unsure of how Price will be used going forward after horrible Game 2 ALDS start

John Tomase
October 08, 2018 - 6:46 pm

There's really only one question for Red Sox manager Alex Cora as he tries to piece together two more wins against the Yankees in the American League Division Series -- can he trust David Price?

The left-hander was the team's best pitcher in the second half, but he imploded in a 6-2 Game 2 loss, allowing a pair of homers before being lifted with two outs in the second.

And so now Cora must decide if Price remains a viable option moving forward as either a starter or reliever, especially considering his awful numbers this season in Yankee Stadium.

"I think there's been guys around the league that they struggle their first 10 (playoff) starts," Cora told reporters, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "Like, (Justin) Verlander, nobody remembers that he wasn't good early in his career in the playoffs and now he's kind of like the poster child of playoff baseball. I read something about Pedro (Martinez) against Cleveland. I don't know. We saw it last year out of the bullpen (Price) did a good job. He pitched a wild card game and went nine innings, or 163, against the Rangers. One thing for sure, he's in the same spirits today. He's ready to roll which is very important for us."

Cora noted that Price's success from July through September was based on location and pitch differentiation. Both were lacking on Saturday night when Aaron Judge took him deep for a mammoth homer in the first, and Gary Sanchez followed suit in the second.

"If you look at it Judge was a backdoor cutter right in the middle of the plate," Cora said. "The pitch to Sanchez down and away, you look at the box and he dotted it. Sometimes you have to give them credit. From my experience, and this is my only experience with him, everything was blended together as far as velocity and we saw what happens early in the season when everything is together. There was some velocity -- when the fastball was 93 and the changeup was 86, he dominated. When he used his fastball in different spots he was really, really good. It was a tough one but we have to turn the page and prepare for whatever role we're going to use him.

"You start looking at swings and misses and where he was getting those swings and misses throughout those 10 starts or whatever. I think for him, and he knows it, he talks about it, it's about using pitches in different spots in the strike zone and also using pitches out of the zone. Sometimes they're aggressive and they were aggressive in the strike zone early. Sometimes with him it takes him a while to start getting his location and once he does that he rolls. They were good early, right away. They put good swings on it. If you look at it the two walks to (Gleyber) Torres and (Brett) Gardner put him in a bad spot and (Andrew) McCutchen and he got to it. He'll be fine."

So what next for Price? He has been two different pitchers throughout his postseason career, dominating in relief and struggling as a starter.

"I talked to him today," Cora said. "He said he's available. He's in good spirits. We talked a little bit yesterday, just talked to him about it. We'll see how it goes. Still, he made a start two days ago. Health is very important. I know there's a point that everybody's all in, but at the same time, I have to be smart about it. He told me that he's all in, so, we'll see how it goes."

Could that mean Price ends up in relief?

"We'll use him for however we need him," Cora said. "Obviously, like he said, that wasn't good. He's ready. He's ready to go. He said it. He wants to win a World Series. He still believes that obviously get people out start and win games. He did last year. We saw that. He was very impressive and he was great. We'll see how we're going to use him."