KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David Price is ready to prove his critics wrong.
The Toronto Blue Jays ace gets the start in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday with his team’s season on the line. Although Price has dominated in the regular season throughout his eight-year career, he’s never won as a starter in the playoffs.
Price understands he has yet to meet expectations in the post-season, but said he doesn’t need to prove he can pitch in a big game.
“I have to prove that I can pitch at this point in the season in the playoffs,” said Price at a news conference on Thursday. “I get that. But I don’t have to go out there and prove that I’m a good pitcher. I think I’ve done that over my career.
“So I’m just going to go out there, throw my game, have fun, have good things happen, get good results and good things are going to happen. I know they are.”
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Price’s 2-7 record in the post-season – with both wins coming as a reliever – stands in stark contrast to his 104-56 regular season record that saw him earn a Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher in 2012.
The 29-year-old lefty, who has been in the post-season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and now Toronto, knows that it’s the playoffs where he can earn his reputation. But he’s not going to change his approach, instead relying on what got him to the post-season in the first place.
“What I did in the regular season doesn’t matter. I get it,” said Price. “But I know I’m a good pitcher. I know I’m a very good pitcher. Good things are going to happen. Everybody is going to say whatever they want to say and write what they want to write. And I completely get that, but I know good things are going to happen.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons thinks Price’s poor post-season record is just a matter of bad luck and adds that there’s no one in Toronto’s starting rotation that he’d rather have on the mound with his team trailing the best-of-seven series 3-2.
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“You get to be one of the elite pitchers in the game for a reason,” said Gibbons. “Those are kind of the guys that get you here. Without David we’re not here, anyway. So it’s a moot topic there.
“I’m glad he’s going tomorrow. I’m not hesitant one bit to throw him out there, because I’ve only seen him good.”
Gibbons sees Price as his best arm and used him as a reliever in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. Down 3-1 in the ALCS on Wednesday night, Gibbons had Price start to loosen up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen to come in for starting pitcher Marco Estrada. It never came to that as Estrada dispatched the Royals’ lineup with help from relievers Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna.
“I was warming up to come in,” Price said Wednesday night when asked whether he was simply throwing the typical bullpen session that most starters throw between their scheduled starts or if he was gearing up to get into the game.
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“(I was) getting ready to go get us outs.”
Price doesn’t see much difference in warming up to pitch out of the bullpen or to start, especially when it comes to elimination games.
“It’s still pitching, it’s still baseball, it’s still the same thing I’ve done for a long time,” he said. “Just go out there, help this team win and go get outs.”
Price, whose last start came during Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday in Kansas City – a tough 6-3 loss for Toronto – said his normal bullpen session between outings would have been Monday, though he also added that he rarely throws between starts.
The Blue Jays will have another arm in their arsenal on Friday as reliever Aaron Loup will be available. The right-hander has missed most of the post-season attending to a family emergency.
With files from Melissa Couto in Toronto