David Price made the first playoff appearance of his career as a hard-throwing rookie in the back end of the bullpen for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.
And his role might be similar for the 2017 Boston Red Sox.
Price, who recently returned from the 10-day disabled list, didn’t have time to go on a rehab outing that would prepare his arm for the rigors of being a starting pitcher. So the left-hander likely will be in the bullpen when the Red Sox take the field in October.
And we got a glimpse of how Price might be used Friday in the Sox’s 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
After starter Rick Porcello lasted only four innings, Price came out of the Red Sox’s bullpen and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out four and walking one.
The lefty threw 40 pitches (26 strikes) while hitting 96 mph on the radar gun and recording six swing-and-misses. He now has thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, allowing two hits and striking out five.
While he’s never won a playoff game as a starter, Price’s bullpen history in October and recent effectiveness could give John Farrell a devastating weapon in the Boston bullpen.
Farrell could utilize Price as a sort of life raft who can shut opposing lineups down for multiple innings, bridging the gap between a starter on a short leash and the back end of the Red Sox’s bullpen. Or Price could be sent back to 2008 and become a one-inning bulldozer in front of Craig Kimbrel, making life equally tough on the Sox’s playoff opponent.
Friday’s game looked like a blueprint that Farrell will use for October, with Price coming out of the pen in the middle innings and handing the ball to Addison Reed.
And if Price is as good as he was Friday, he could be a difference maker in the playoffs.
That’s how the Sox are drawing it up, at least.
Let’s look at more notes from Red Sox-Rays.
— Price threw only fastballs, cutters and changeups Friday, staying away from his devastating curveball.
— The Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 games with Christian Vazquez in the starting lineup.
— Rafael Devers hit his first home run in 106 at-bats Friday.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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