David Price has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time. That’s why Boston rewarded him with a seven-year, $217 million contract this past offseason.

Price, however, hasn’t been himself. The 30-year-old is 9-7 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.23 WHIP and has given up at least one home run in 10 of his last 12 starts. In fact, he’s given up 16 home runs this season after allowing 17 all of last season.

What is going on with Price this year?

“He was the reason why I think Toronto went from being a pretty good team to a serious American League contender, and I’m still sitting here today shocked that they didn’t win it all last year – because they were that good with David Price,” Boston Herald Red Sox beat writer Jason Mastrodonato said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s funny because I’m at the All-Star Game last week and I’m talking to Josh Donaldson and Marco Estrada. The Blue Jays had five guys on the All-Star team. The Orioles have five guys. So do the Red Sox. The American League East is still a really competitive division. Talking to Donaldson, talking to Estrada, not only do they miss David Price, but they’re looking across the way and they’re going, ‘What the heck’s going on?’ They’re wondering the same thing that we’re wondering as reporters, as talk-radio hosts, as fans – they don’t understand what’s going on with David Price.

“When you talk to coaches, when you talk to Price, when you look at the velocity numbers, everything about David Price is almost identical to what he was doing last year, which brings me to the conclusion that something is in his head,” Mastrodonato continued. “It’s the pressure. It’s $217 million over seven years. A guy who’s been used to playing in places like Toronto, where he was a hero, and their expectations really weren’t that high. And places like Tampa Bay. Now he’s in Boston with all the money and he’s got to be the ace of a staff that’s a really bad pitching staff this year. Everything points to it’s just a lot of pressure for him and he’s getting adjusted to that right now because there are no other indications of why he’s failing the way he is.”

Despite Price’s struggles, the Red Sox are 51-39 and just 1.5 games behind Baltimore (53-38) in the AL East.

“They’re absolutely in it,” Mastrodonato said. “As soon as David Price gets hot, if he starts pitching the way everybody knows he can pitch, this is going to be a real difficult team to deal with.”

David Ortiz leads the Red Sox with a .327 average, a .421 OBP, 22 home runs, 34 doubles and 72 RBIs. Unfortunately, the 40-year-old is slowing down a bit, this after legging out a lot of doubles in the first half of the season.

“Now he’s paying the price for it,” Mastrodonato said. “He’s barely running. If you watched much of the Yankees’ series, he’s really not running that hard anymore – and he can’t. I’m not surprised that he’s putting up the numbers because hitting is a game of knowledge and experience. Nothing that David Ortiz does surprises me anymore. People will say what they want about him and look back at the testing that his name was supposedly on in 2003. But nothing this guy does surprises me. I think he’s a Hall of Famer and he’s having a Hall of Fame last season right now.”


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