After opting out of the 2020 MLB season due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, David Price returned to the mound this year and has filled multiple roles for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The left-hander began the season in the bullpen because of the club’s abundance of starting pitching, which he didn’t mind as it gave the likes of Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urias an opportunity to continue their development.
“I’ve done this for a long time and I know we have a tremendous amount of talent with a lot of our young guys,” Price said earlier this year. “Those guys deserve opportunities to go out there and be starters.
“I want those guys to go out there and be successful and build their routine as a starter. They have really, really good stuff and I want to see those guys be successful. If me going to the bullpen gives those guys more opportunities, I’m all for that.”
Having already built an excellent career as a starter, Price was intrigued about the possibility of contributing in the bullpen. “The times that I have thrown out of the bullpen, it’s always been on short rest,” he said.
“I feel like the more that I throw the more crisp my stuff and pitches get. I enjoy having the opportunity to go out there and help this team win as much as I can. I think that’s the one thing that’s tough about being a starter. You get to play every five days.
“As a reliever, you get to the field and know you have an opportunity to help the team be successful. That’s just kind of my attitude towards being in the bullpen and the way that I look at it. I’ve always enjoyed sitting out in the bullpen.
“It’s a different look for me always being a starter and sitting in the dugout. Whenever you’re in the outfield it’s almost a completely different game out there.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’m all for it. I’ll get outs wherever they ask me to. If it’s in the beginning of the game, middle, the end, I’m open for it all.”
In 24 relief appearances this season, Price has posted a 4-0 record with a 3.77 ERA and 1.71 WHIP over 28.2 innings of work. That’s despite getting off to a slow start in April, where he posted a 5.59 ERA in seven games.
While the plan was for Price to finish out the season in the bullpen, the Dodgers had no choice but to increase his workload a result of several starters landing on the injured list. That’s mostly come in the form of starts but also some appearances as the bulk pitcher.
As a starter, Price has gone 0-2 with a 3.92 ERA and 1.16 ERA in 41.1 innings across 11 games. In 35 overall appearances this season, he has posted a 4-2 record, 3.86 ERA, 3.97 FIP and 1.39 WHIP with 58 strikeouts against 23 walks over 70 innings pitched.
Price’s usage for final stretch of season
As the Dodgers navigate the final weeks of the regular season, they have been mindful of Price’s usage.
“David is never going to run away from the baseball. That’s one of the many things that I love about him, but understanding what he did — or not playing last year — and what we’re counting on from him for this season, it’s a lot,” manager Dave Roberts acknowledged.
“Starting, coming out of the ‘pen, spot starts and doing that, that’s a big ask but he’s doing it fantastic. I think for me it’s just make sure we take care of him and try not to push him too much because we value him a lot.”
Price has battled recent left elbow trouble and only made two appearances in September thus far.
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