All eyes will be on David Price at Fenway Park on Sunday night, and with good reason.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander laid another postseason egg in the American League Division Series, getting roughed up by the New York Yankees in Game 2 to move to 0-9 as a playoff starter.
Yet manager Alex Cora is sticking with Price as his Game 2 starter for the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros, in part because he believes Price matches up well with the defending World Series champs — and also because he’s confident the veteran can handle the added pressure.
When asked Thursday whether some players are better in the clutch than others — an implicit nod to Price’s postseason struggles — Cora brought up Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James to get his point across.
“People have bad games and good games,” Cora said in a press conference aired on NESN. “Like in basketball, people have this two sides of LeBron James. Is he the greatest, or he doesn’t perform in the playoffs? LeBron James is a pretty good player.
“I really don’t believe in stuff like that. I believe that there’s guys that execute and guys that don’t. But as far as like clutch or showing up or not — I don’t know. It’s the same thing, it’s just a different spotlight.”
The numbers certainly suggest Price has shrunk in the October spotlight. But Cora, who served as Houston’s bench coach last season, was quick to point out the 33-year-old’s performance against his club in the 2017 ALDS: 6 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts in two appearances out of the bullpen.
“I saw what happened last year with the Astros,” Cora said. “He was actually the best pitcher in that series last year. I know he was coming out of the bullpen, but what he did was good to see now.”
Price is far from the baseball equivalent of a NBA star like James, but Cora’s message was clear: He trusts his Game 2 starter.
“I think he’s going to make some adjustments,” Cora added. “He’ll be fine.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images