There was a stretch from when David Price came off the disabled list to the end of August that the Rays won 9 of his 11 starts. That had very little to do with luck. The Rays didn’t score a ton of runs during Price’s start (4.36 per game), and the reason they won so often was that Price was undeniably dominant over that stretch. Price bewildered hitters to the tune of a 1.97 ERA and an insane 62-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 82.1 innings pitched, and if the Rays had not won as many games as they did, the blame would have been placed squarely on their shoulders. Since then, however, the Rays have won exactly one of Price’s five starts, and that win came long after Price departed in the 18-inning game against the Orioles. How has the Rays’ ace been the starting pitcher they have won with the least over the last month?
We have been idealizing David Price. He got off to a terrible start to the season, got injured, but then he came back and was dominant. He threw eight or nine innings every time, never walked anybody, and combine his performance with one of the most fan-interactive Twitter accounts and an all-around great personality, and you had an iconic baseball player. His injury made people question what he would yield in a trade, but suddenly people were talking about him netting the Rays just as much as he would have pre-injury and maybe even more. He was the clear-cut ace on the Rays staff, the shining light in a rotation that had been inconsistent, and Rays fans could not possibly imagine their team letting him leave. But now the delusions are over, however fun they were, and reality is setting back in. David Price is a very good pitcher but not an all-time great. The Rays love to have him, but his departure from Tampa Bay is inevitable. Price’s perfection blinded us to the truth, making us believe that it would never end. Unsuprisingly, though, it did, and now the Rays have to move on.
Wait a second–David Price’s ERA in his last five starts was 4.05. Even when it seems like he’s struggling mightily, he’s not collapsing, just masquerading as a normal major league pitcher for a few weeks. Price had an unbelievable run, but then hitters adjusted and now Price will hope to adjust back. Who knows whether any of this stuff about dominance and imperfection and staying in Tampa Bay and leaving is really true. All we know is that David Price is an awfully good pitcher, and the Tampa Bay Rays are confident they can reel off their sixth straight victory as he takes the mound tonight.