CLEVELAND, Ohio – David Price did all right Wednesday night for a pitcher who can’t pitch in the postseason.
Price started Game 2 of the World Series and allowed two runs on three hits in six innings in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Dodgers at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lead the Dodgers, 2-0, as the series moves to Los Angeles.
This postseason Price is 2-1 with a 4.42 ERA in four starts. He’s struck out 18, walked nine and allowed nine earned runs in 18 1/3 innings. Not great, eye-popping numbers, but certainly good enough when supported by an offense that outlasted Houston in the ALCS – and that’s saying something – and a maligned bullpen that seems to be populated with relievers who throw only 98 mph and above.
To be sure Price, at this stage of his career, will never be known as the next Andy Pettitte, Orel Hershiser or Whitey Ford when it comes to postseason success. He’s 4-9 with a 4.91 ERA in 21 postseason appearances.
What he does is offer an example that talent, given an opportunity, can play and succeed in any situation.
It brings to mind Corey Kluber and the speculation, some of it in the media and some among fans, that now would be a good time for the Indians to trade the two-time Cy Young winner. One of the reasons given is Kluber’s poor performance in the last two postseasons. He went 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA in two starts against the Yankees in the 2017 ALDS. This year he went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA against Houston in Game 1 of the ALDS.
But in 2016, Kluber carried an injured rotation to Game 7 of the World Series by going 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA (seven earned runs in 34 1/3 innings) over six starts. He made three starts in the World Series, winning the first two. Kluber’s six starts are tied for first place and his four wins are tied for third among single-season performances in postseason history.
Kluber, 33 in April, went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 33 starts during the regular season this year. He led the AL in innings pitched with 215 and while his strikeouts decreased, he still finished fifth in the league with 222.
The track record of postseason success is there. Who’s to say he won’t have it again?
The Indians haven’t traded a pitcher of Kluber’s status since they dealt Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee in 2008 and 2009, respectively. They dealt Sabathia because he was in his walk year and they had no chance of keeping him. They dealt Lee, who still have a year left on his contract, because ownership said they were leaking money.
Kluber is expected to make an estimated $17 million in 2019. The Indians hold club options on him for 2020 and 2021 worth an estimated $17.5 million and $18 million, depending on how he finishes in the Cy Young voting in November.
The Indians have a lot of holes to fill this winter and a trade of Kluber would help. But who would replace him as the team’s No. 1 starter? Considering production and cost few do it better. Price will make $31 million next year, Max Scherzer $42 million and Justin Verlander $28 million.
Despite facing the prospect of losing several quality players to free agency after the World Series, the Indians are still a good team. Trading Kluber would not help them.