Red Sox fans can’t help but worry even though we’re only three weeks into the 2016 season.
Last winter, when new general manager Dave Dombrowski announced that he and the best free-agent pitcher, David Price, had agreed to terms, Sox fans couldn’t help but be ecstatic.
After all, Boston had one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball in 2015. Former general manager Ben Cherrington made an awful move sending Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit for Rick Porcello, while Clay Buchholz was sent out as the ace.
The Sox went 78-84, finishing up in fifth place in the American League East, ending the Cherrington tenure.
Dombrowski made his presence known early in Boston with not only the Price signing, but also adding to the backend of the bullpen and acquiring hard-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel.
So with the biggest weakness patched up a bit, this season was highly anticipated in Boston – and for good reason.
The Red Sox ran Price out on the mound on Opening Day in Cleveland and expectations were high.
The left-hander didn’t disappoint. He went six innings, allowing just two runs, walking two and striking out 10.
The 30-year-old started 1-0 and everything was starting out as planned for Price, who went 18-5, with a 2.45 ERA last year in Detroit and Toronto.
Then, coincidentally, Price got to start the Sox home-opener at Fenway thanks to a couple of rainouts.
The excitement and anticipation quickly turned to disappointment, however, as Baltimore tagged Price for five runs in five innings en route to a 9-7 win.
Price didn’t take the loss, but he wasn’t sharp.
In his third start, Price faced his former Blue Jays and looked good again. The lefty went seven innings, allowing just two runs, while striking out nine, to move to 2-0 on the year.
Price again looked good, and many thought he may have just been off in his second outing, or better yet, nervous to get the ball in the home-opener.
But on Thursday, eyes glared as the weak offense in Tampa Bay made Price look abysmal. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs and striking out only five.
He earned a no decision and remains 2-0, but it hasn’t been good.
We’re only four starts into the season and Price has already been up and down.
For someone getting paid $217 million over seven years, Price hasn’t looked like he’s worth it just yet.
Admittedly, it’s early, but it is time to worry just a bit. Boston has had a recent history of signing busts – Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo and Carl Crawford just to name a few.
I don’t think Price will continue down this shaky path, but it’s notable that a man who is making over $30 million a year has an ERA of 7.06 after four starts, especially since he was brought in to lower the team ERA.
If Price does turn out to be a bust, he’d be the biggest one yet in Boston.
It was a risk bringing an unproven playoff pitcher in for such a large sum of money, but Red Sox fans better hope this is just a hiccup.