David Price rejoined the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2021 season after opting out the previous year due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The left-hander competed for the final spot in the starting rotation during Spring Training, but lost out to Dustin May and was moved to the bullpen. Price nevertheless was excited about contributing in a relief role, which is something he hadn’t done since the 2008 season.
Price initially struggled and was placed on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 hamstring strain in late April. He was reinstated on May 16 and looked like a different pitcher as he tossed 6.2 scoreless appearances over four games to close out the month, including two where he served as the Dodgers’ opener.
Price continued to mostly pitch out of the bullpen in June, with all but one of his 11 appearances coming as a reliever. That changed the following month as several starting pitchers were lost to injury.
Price was inserted into the Dodgers rotation, where he remained through the end of August. As the club got healthier during the final month of the regular season, the 36-year-old was moved back to the bullpen.
In 39 games (11 starts), Price went 5-2 with a 4.03 ERA, 4.23 FIP and 1.43 WHIP. He was left off the Dodgers’ Wild Card Game roster, but returned for the National League Division Series.
Price, however, did not make an appearance against the San Francisco Giants. He initially was left off the NL Championship Series, but replaced Joe Kelly, who sustained a right biceps strain. Despite this, Price did not a throw a pitch against the Atlanta Braves, either.
Price’s 2021 highlight
Price earned his first win of the season after tossing two scoreless innings and collecting four strikeouts against the San Diego Padres on April 16. He also tallied a sacrifice fly in the 12th inning that capped off a five-run outburst for the Dodgers offense.
Price’s contributions of getting a win, four strikeouts and the RBI in the extra-innings game marked a first for a Dodgers relief pitcher since Nap Rucker during the 1915 season.
Price remains under team control for one more season and figures to continue filling a hybrid role next year.
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