In game two of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price threw 4.2 innings before being removed from the game for the team’s most reliable reliever this postseason, Matt Barnes.

Price earned cheers from the Boston faithful, who have rarely seen Price have any kind of success in the playoffs. They cheered despite the fact that Price allowed four runs and remained responsible for the runners on first and second.

After the game, Price was commended by his manager Alex Cora for his efforts, which came in a Red Sox win and tied the series at 1-1. For the first time in his 11 career playoff starts, David Price’s team earned a victory.

Although Price received praise from his manager and fans, his start against the Astros was not good enough to warrant another start in the series. Instead, Cora should turn to pitchers Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi to close out the series.

Price’s performance against the Astros demonstrated improvement from his poor start against the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series, in which he allowed three runs in just 1.2 innings.

During Tuesday’s start, Price yielded four walks and five hits, including a mammoth two-run home run to Astros’ utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Throughout the evening, Price navigated his way with runners on base with mixed results.

The overall positive tone about Price’s performance was rooted in the fact that he played a small part in a Red Sox victory for the first time in a postseason series.

The Red Sox win was largely attributable to the team’s offense, which scored five runs against Houston pitcher Gerrit Cole, who was fresh off of a dominant start against the Cleveland Indians. Additionally, the Red Sox bullpen held the lead by pitching the remaining 4.1 innings while yielding only one run.

The Red Sox team performance masked an otherwise mediocre outing from their starting pitcher. Quite frankly, the best part about Price’s performance was that he wasn’t as bad as he usually is in the postseason, given that he had an 0-9 record with a 6.18 ERA in 10 prior playoff starts.

Price has been more effective as a reliever during his playoff career, even as recently as last year, when he threw 6.2 scoreless innings over two appearances. Additionally, Price’s only two career playoff wins have come in relief.

Given the Red Sox’s current 2-1 lead in the ALCS, the ideal scenario for the Red Sox would be to win the next two games with Rick Porcello and Chris Sale on the mound to punch the team’s tickets to the World Series. Yet, if the series goes beyond five games, Cora should start Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello on short rest for games six and seven.

These pitchers would be tasked with starting on short rest, as the only other starting pitcher on the Red Sox’s playoff roster is the inconsistent Eduardo Rodriguez. Both Eovaldi and Porcello have performed very well thus far during the playoffs and would represent an upgrade from Price as the starter. Additionally, Price can serve as a long reliever as early as game five, which could help fortify the Red Sox bullpen.

Since Porcello and Eovaldi would be working on short rest, it is reasonable to expect that they would make shorter starts of around only four or five innings.

At this point, Price could come out of the bullpen for one to two innings, to help bridge the gap to the rest of the bullpen. Furthermore, Price would be in a role in which he has been more successful previously.

In a bullpen role, Price would only need to face a select few hitters rather than going through a dangerous Houston lineup multiple times. The fact that Price has a long track record of imploding in playoff starts should convince Alex Cora to keep Price in the bullpen.

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