Oct 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher David Price (14) on the mound during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals in game two of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
5. TORONTO ALLOWING DAVID PRICE TO PITCH THE ENTIRE SEVENTH INNING HIGHLIGHTS THEIR SHALLOW BULLPEN
I was surprised that Toronto manager John Gibbons allowed David Price to pitch the entire seventh inning. I expected Gibbons to pull Price after Mike Moustakas drove in Eric Hosmer to tie the game at three all.
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Clearly, the KC Royals hitters had figured out Price. And, tying up the game had jazzed Kauffman Stadium into a frenzy. I would have wanted to prevent Price from becoming the losing pitcher, and hope that going to the pen might help break Kansas City’s momentum.
However, upon reflection, I understood Gibbon’s decision. Right-handed hitter Salvador Perez followed Moustakas in the KC batting order, with lefty Alex Gordon behind Perez. If he pulled Price after Moustakas’ single, he would only have one lefty option to use against Gordon in Aaron Loup.
Loup is anything but a shut-down reliever with his 4.46 ERA in 2015. While Loup performed fairly well against left-handed hitters this season with a .275/.342/.362 for a .704 OPS and a 94 OPS+ (6% better than a league-average pitcher), he’s hardly a world-beater. Meanwhile, David Price has a strong track record against Alex Gordon, allowing only a .214/.214/.286 slash line in 14 career at bats.
Sticking with Price made sense given his early game performance, his career success against Gordon, and the lack of situational lefties available to Gibbons. Price was probably the best lefty option available to the Blue Jays to face Alex Gordon.
After striking out Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon stroked a double into the right-center gap that drove in Moustakas from second to give Kansas City a 4-3 lead.
Gibbons lacks the luxury of two strong lefty relievers to help him win platoon advantages in the late innings, unlike KC Royals manager Ned Yost who has Franklin Morales and Danny Duffy. This shortcoming could prove fatal to the Toronto Blue Jays World Series aspirations.