While David Price didn't start the first game of the ALCS, make no mistake, he is still the ace of the Blue Jays rotation. Price was every bit as good as the Alex Anthopoulos could have hoped when he acquired the lanky left-hander from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline. He made 11 starts for the Jays down the stretch, throwing a 74.1 stunning innings and leading the Jays' as they surged past the Yankees and into first place in the American League East.
Price excels because he does the three things that best predict a pitchers success. He gets lots of strikeouts, doesn't issue many walks, and rarely allows home runs. Here's how he stacked up against other American League starting pitchers in the categories that make up fielding independent pitching.
Put it all together and Price boasts a 2.78 FIP. That's good for second in the American League, just a tick below Chris Sale (2.73). His ERA? Well, that was best in the league, at 2.45. Whichever way you prefer to slice it, Price has been a bad man on the mound this season.
Price gets it done with a deep arsenal, regularly mixing five pitches. Expect lefties Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alex Gordon to see a heavy dose of the hard stuff. This season, Price has leaned heavily on his sinker and fourseamer against same-side hitters, running these pitches -- which each average 95 mph -- away from left-handed batters. Right-handers in the will see a lot more of his change. For what it's worth, Price thinks it's been his best pitch this season. It's hard to argue with him as it's generated a ton of whiffs (20%).
This leads into one of the most interesting parts of Price's season, his reverse platoon splits. Typically, you'd expect a left handed pitcher to have better results against left-handed hitters and pitch worse against righties. For Price it's been the opposite this season.
This probably doesn't mean that Yost will turn switch-hitters Kendrys Morales and Ben Zobrist around to hit left-handed against Price, but it may give the true lefties a reason for optimism.
Despite his struggles in the ALDS against the Rangers, Price is still one of the best starting pitchers in the game. Sure, it was weird that John Gibbons used him in relief in Game 4, burning his changes of starting Game 5 in favor of a much less heralded (but still very impressive) Marcus Stroman. And yes, overall he's been miserable in the postseason. But if you're making the argument that Price can't get it done in October, you probably overlooked his eight-inning, two-run performance against Baltimore just last year in the ALDS, perhaps because he wound up being out dueled by Bud Norris, of all pitchers.
Fifty innings simply isn't large enough sample to write a pitcher off as being unable to perform under the pressure of the playoffs. Especially when that pitcher is one of the main reasons his teams have reached the postseason to begin with.