I have always admired soon-to-be free-agent David Price’s talent but now have huge admiration for his past and assumed present judgment. Price was quoted in a 2013 article saying there would be teams he wouldn’t sign with because of what he perceived as some unreasonable team rules including the Yankees policy which forbids their players to grow beards. He said “I wouldn’t stay there long or sign a long-term deal there.” Good for him for knowing that he shouldn’t go to such a rigid team with such outdated old-school rules.
Meanwhile, Price has more immediate issues to worry about aside from beard growing freedom. Price started his post-season career as a rookie in 2008 while pitching for Tampa Bay and was thrust into the spotlight against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. He made three relief appearances where he notched a win and a save in Game 7. Since then, he has he has started and lost six straight playoff games with an ERA of 5.23 including Game 1 against Texas. Yet, he has a remarkable 104-56 record in the regular season with a 3.09 career ERA.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has a 1-6 playoff record and 4.99 ERA including the Game 1 loss against the Mets. Four of his seven playoff games he has gotten racked. Also a rookie in 2008, Kershaw has dominated the regular season with a 114-56 record and 2.43 ERA.
Even recent Hall of Fame inductee Randy Johnson had significant playoff struggles. Johnson appeared in the playoffs eight different seasons with an all-time record of 7-9 with a 3.50 ERA. With that said, five of the seven wins came in the 2001 World Series championship run when he pitched 41.3 innings and allowed seven runs and the other two wins came in his inaugural playoff appearance when he beat the Yankees twice including a thrilling Game 5. The other six years he pitched in the playoffs, he was 0-7 with a 5.43 ERA.
There is something special about pitchers who truly can raise their game when it matters most …in the postseason. Guys like Dave Stewart 10-6, 2.77 ERA, Cliff Lee 7-0, 1.26 ERA, John Smoltz 15-4, 2.67 ERA, Curt Schilling 11-2, 2.23 ERA and Bob Gibson 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA. Notice that Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez are not on this list. So Kershaw and Price have good company.
For all the talk about how hot and cohesive the Toronto Blue Jays were heading into the playoffs, they seem to have run into a team that has that same mojo with much less fanfare. The Texas Rangers have shocked everyone by winning both games in Toronto and now are one game away from knocking off the chic pick to win the World Series.
On August 12, the Rangers were 55-57, amidst seven teams competing for the second wildcard spot and four games out of first. Since that day, Texas was 33-17 and relied heavily on Cole Hamels (7-4 3.05 ERA playoff stats) to lead the way. Aside from losing the wildcard game in 2012, the Rangers have made their playoff appearances count but unfortunately for them, they lost the World Series in both 2010 and 2011.
A sad epilogue to the embarrassing performance the New York Yankees put forth in the wildcard game against the upstart Houston Astros and their ace Dallas Keuchel. The writing was on the wall for New York who went 14-17 in September. There is a lot of blame to go around for the team with the second highest payroll in the majors (40 million higher than third) but Jacoby Ellsbury is probably the top of the list.
In September, Ellsbury batted .200 but over the final three months of the season, Ellsbury’s batting average plummeted a whopping 65 points while his on base percentage dropped an astounding 90 points. The piece de resistance was when Manager Joe Girardi deemed his 153 million dollar player not worthy of playing in the Yankees lone playoff game. Ellsbury just eeked inside the top 300 OBP’s in baseball. Meanwhile, his replacement Mookie Betts hit 11 more home runs, 44 more RBIS, 34 points higher in batting average and ERA. Good news for the Yankees is he has only five more years on his contract. One last thing, Ellsbury missed 51 games due to injury this season.
A great and ironic pitching matchup between the Cubs and Cardinals in Game 1 when former teammates Jon Lester faced John Lackey. Lester, who has traditionally been a great playoff performer has been mediocre his last two starts with a 5.55 ERA. Both cases he was cruising along, but got hit hard late in the game. In two NLDS appearances for the Cardinals, Lackey has won both and allowed one run.
Lastly, with all the focus of the sports world on Deflategate the last several months, a very important sports crime dropped off the radar. On June 19th, the FBI discovered a third breach of the Houston Astros database by the St. Louis Cardinals and that appears to be the last update we all received. Allegedly deflating footballs versus database breach?????
With that said, I am clamoring for a Cardinals-Astros World Series. The Astros can consult all NFL teams as to precautions to take when playing the Cardinals. It truly is amazing how this story has been forgotten, but if that projected World Series even starts to become a possibility, then the Cardinals great franchise karma might change.