CLEVELAND — David Price had his past postseason failures on his mind even before his Red Sox career began.
“I think I was just saving all my postseason wins for the Red Sox,” Price said last Dec. 4 after signing a seven-year, $217-million contract with Boston. “I know good things are going to happen to me in October.”
That has not been the case in past Octobers, though.
Price, 31, slated to start against the Indians’ Corey Kluber in ALDS Game 2 on Friday afternoon, will haul an 0-7 record and a 5.27 ERA in eight previous postseason starts into the contest.
“I want to have that really good postseason game,” Price said Thursday. “And I know that I’m capable of doing that.”
Price is 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA in the playoffs, with both victories coming in relief (in 2008 with the Rays against the Red Sox and last season with the Blue Jays against the Rangers).
“Honestly, with all due respect, that’s overblown,” Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis told the Boston Herald on Tuesday, referring to Price’s postseason woes. “I don’t think he concerns himself with it. And I certainly don’t.”
But it is a shocking hole in a career resume that has the possibility of a Cooperstown trajectory to it. Price is 121-65 with a 3.21 ERA in nine big-league seasons. He went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA this season, recovering well after a horrid start.
Said Red Sox manager John Farrell: “I just know that we’ve got a very good pitcher taking the mound tomorrow.”
It’s not to say Price has been a complete train wreck in the postseason. He managed to throw at least six innings in each of his starts, and a few of the outings weren’t simply a matter of poor performance.
“I happened to watch a game on TV last year . . . a shutout going into the seventh inning,” Farrell said. “So much of those are circumstantial.”
It was a reference to Game 2 of the 2015 ALCS. Price, pitching for the Blue Jays against the Royals, took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, having thrown only 66 pitches and retired 18 straight.
But Ben Zobrist snapped that string with a leadoff pop- up that Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins let drop after initially calling for it, propelling Kansas City to a five-run inning.
More of a concern to Price is a 2016 he characterized as “inconsistent.” He was 8-6 with a 4.64 ERA as late as July 5 before going 9-3 with a 3.33 ERA in his last 17 starts, aided by a mechanical adjustment with his hands.
“I didn’t throw the baseball the way that I know I can throw it. Over the course of 32, 33 starts, I didn’t do that,” Price said. “I got off to a very bad start after Opening Day. It took me a while to rebound from that. I threw the ball a lot better in the second half, and I feel good. I feel good mentally, physically, and I’m excited to pitch tomorrow.”