Red Sox Clinch Playoff Spot And Get Good News From David Price, But Still have October Concerns [Opinion]

The Red Sox picked up their 99th win of the season with only 17 games left to go, which was enough to make them the first team in Major League Baseball to clinch a playoff spot. While it is unlikely they will reach 116 wins, they’re still likely to pile up an impressive record, one that could go down as one of the best in the modern era. If that wasn’t good enough on its own, pitcher David Price told ESPN that he has no plans to opt out of the remaining four years on his contract with them, which, if true, clears up a huge question mark for the BoSox before the winter meetings ever take place.

They still have question marks heading into October, and they aren’t likely to clear up quite as easily as the Price situation did. One of the biggest things the Sox need to deal with is when Chris Sale will really return, and how effective he will be by the playoffs. While Boston is having a tremendous season and winning without him, they can’t expect to run through playoff series without him.

Price, who, at 33, is in the third year of a $217-million-contract, could be the de facto ace and carry the pitching staff on his own, which may be true in the regular season. But in October, Price has never been someone to count on, and he knows it.

“I could go 35-0 in the regular season with a zero [ERA] and it wouldn’t matter. I need to win in October. That’s that; [the] regular season means nothing for me.”

In October baseball, Price carries a 5.03 ERA in 17 games. He has looked brilliant a couple of times, but a couple solid performances in 17 games doesn’t cut it. Sale is technically back, and he did throw an inning in their clincher out of the bullpen, but the Sox need more from him than that. He threw 26 pitches, and later told ESPN he was erratic. There is obvious rust, and everyone wants to know when he can start again.

Another thing the Red Sox have concerns about is how they will approach October. Historically, teams that clinch early in the wild card era lose in the first round at an almost 50 percent rate, 12 of 25 times, per ESPN. Only five teams that clinched first in the MLB went on to win the World Series. While every team is unique, it points to a trend that some teams fall flat after clinching and have trouble getting it going again. The Red Sox are aware of it, but they aren’t expressing “serious” concern about falling flat, at least not right now.