Is David Price building a case for the Dodgers playoff roster spot?

Remember when it looked like David Price was going to become arguably the most wasteful trade acquisition in Los Angeles Dodgers history? Well, it turns out he’s having a one-year contract revival.

Among Dodgers relievers who have thrown in 30 or more games, Price has the second-best ERA (2.51), second-best ERA+ (167) and best walk rate (1.9 BB/9). He struck out 34 in 32.1 innings and lowered his FIP to a respectable 3.27.

Are we… considering a playoff bullpen option for the Dodgers with Walker Buehler officially out until 2023? The LA bullpen has taken countless hits this year, from Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol to Victor Gonzalez, Tommy Kahnle and the massive regression of Phil Bickford.

And given that the Dodgers tried to pick up a number of other veteran relievers over the summer, which didn’t change the math of the MLB bullpen, Price could be relied on in october. He can be used over multiple innings due to his experience as a starter for most of his career.

On Monday night, Price shut the door on the Milwaukee Brewers to seal a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of the series. He hasn’t given up a run since July 12 and Monday was his third consecutive relief appearance that had stakes.

Should David Price be a contributor for the Dodgers in the playoffs?

Prior to this season, Price’s tenure in Los Angeles was marked by disappointment. He withdrew from their run at the 2020 World Series due to concerns over the pandemic. But when he returned, he wasn’t stretched enough to contribute in the way perhaps the Dodgers had preferred. Heading into 2021, the southpaw had just thrown 107.1 innings since the start of 2019.

Last year he played 39 games, starting 11 and finishing 5 (what?) and finished with a 4.03 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 1.43 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 73.2 working innings. Wrong.

Then, heading into the 2022 campaign, Price was seemingly starting off on the wrong foot when he “wasn’t built” in late March to even appear in spring training games! His first arrived on March 30, just over a week before the start of the regular season. What was happening?

I guess it doesn’t matter! Price is a rock-solid bullpen option and has a five-slot arsenal that he’s used extensively in 2022 (although his ballast and change has been marked quite often). Still, his four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, changeover, and curveball make for a terrific mix to dismiss batters if used correctly.

Add Price’s 23 games of postseason experience (4.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 91 strikeouts in 99.1 innings pitched) — though not exactly the best — and he might be a bit more reliable in a low-leverage back-up role rather than as a top-spin starter constantly in the spotlight. With just 32.1 innings under his belt, maybe that was the plan all along. Now he will be well rested for October baseball.

Richard L. Militello