Price: From rookie closer, to Cy Young winner to Blue Jays ace

By Bob Elliott

Lefty David Price was 22 the first time we saw him.

He was the same age as Daniel Norris is this year.

Manager Joe Maddon brought in Price in Game 1 of the 2008 American League Championship Series at Tropicana Field. At the time, the former No. 1 over-all selection in North America from the Vanderbilt Commodores in the 2007 draft, had only 14 big-league innings and 141 in the minors on his left arm as a pro.

With the Rays trailing 2-0, Price was asked to get Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury with two out in the top of the ninth. He did. It was a nice spot to get his feet on the ground and the post-season mound for the first time.

The next night Maddon went to him with one out and a man on first in the 11. Price struck out Mark Kotsay and got Coco Crisp to bounce out. B.J. Upton won it with a fly ball off Mike Timlin and Price was the winner. 

Impressive.   

And the third time was Game 7. The Rays were leading 3-1, while Boston a man on first and two out, Price entered to an ovation from 40,473, many banging cow bells, to face pinch hitter Jed Lowrie. Routine for Mariano Rivera. 
Easy. A tough spot for a young ‘un.

Price got Lowrie to bounce to second, allowing the Rays to advance to the World Series.

Very, very impressive.   

Price has been dominant since going 7-0 at the Rogers Centre in nine starts. One non-decision was that 19-innning six-hour, 37-minute game with the Detroit Tigers last August and the other was his first start in Toronto in 2009. He allowed nine hits including homers to Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill and Alex Rios leaving down 6-0 only to see Tampa Bay rally against Brian Tallet, Jeremy Accardo, Scott Downs and Shawn Camp for a 10-9 in 12 innings.  

Done? The Jays could use (need) a left-handed hitter, they are heavily right-handed lopsided before the non-waiver trade deadline at 4 PM Friday. They could use bullpen help. Or could they deal for an additional rent-a-starter with about $3 million left in the cash box, give or take a $1 million buyout on Maicer Izturis. 

How were the Jays able to spend so much cash this year? Well, they had been operating with a team payroll of $125.9 Million this year, compared to $137.2 Million last year.  

Too late?: The Jays were seven games behind the first-place New York Yankees when GMs Alex Anthopoulos and David Dombrowksi agreed on the deal at 3 AM Thursday and finalized it around noon.

The Jays have 13 games remaining against the Yankees and Price could make three starts. He’s 6-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 14 starts in New York.

Meanwhile in the Bronx, right-hander Michael Pineda was placed on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. Pineda was 9-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 19 starts walking 15 and striking out 117 in 118 innings.

Numbers: Most strikeouts the last five seasons: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers 1,133; Max Scherzer, Tigers, Washington Nationals 1,063; Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners 1,040 and Price 983 ... Lifetime vs. the Jays, Price was 16-2 with a 2.41 ERA 21 starts ... Pitchers since 1901 less than 40 walks and 240 strikeouts in a season: Pedro Martinez, Boston 1999 (37 walks 313 strikeouts) and Boston 2000 (32, 284); Curt Schilling, Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 (39, 293) and Arizona 2002 (33, 316) and Price, Tampa Bay and Detroit 2014 (38, 271) ... Five pitchers won a Cy Young award before joining the Jays: R.A. Dickey, Roger Clemens, Mike Flanagan, Frank Viola and Price. Dickey is 33-36 with a 4.04 ERA in 89 starts, Flanagan 26-27 with a 3.94 ERA in 76 starts, Viola 1-3, with a 7.71 ERA in six starts. Only Clemens had continued success going 41-13 with a 2.33 ERA and winning two more Cy Youngs in two seasons.   

Outgoing: The Jays gave up three lefties Daniel Norris, 22, Matt Boyd, 24 and Jairo Labourt, 21, for Price, like the Royals moved three lefties for Friday’s starter Johnny Cueto. 

Norris opened this season in the Jays rotation making five starts. His only win came in his first start (5 2/3 innings) in a 6-3 win at Yankee Stadium. He had a loss against the Baltimore Orioles and then, is likely the first pitcher ever demoted after a scoreless outing.

Norris worked three innings allowed four hits, two walks and fanned one in a 5-1 victory at Cleveland and was demoted to triple-A Buffalo. He made 16 starts at triple-A Buffalo and still had No. 1 prospect status according to Baseball America. Norris starts Sunday in Baltimore for the Tigers.

In his last four starts for the Bisons, he allowed 15 runs on 26 hits and 12 hits and nine walks in 21 innings (6.43), while striking out nine.

Boyd made two starts with the Jays, six at Buffalo and 12 at double-A New Hampshire, while Labourt had 18 starts at class-A Dunedin and a Futures Game appearance at the all-star game in Cincinnati.

Salary: Price earns $19.75 Million this season. The Jays will the pro-rated share of $7.3 Million.

Changing tote board: They have only played two games and Price hasn’t put on his Jays uniform yet, but the Jays odds have dropped according to Carbon Sports. Adding shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Price has lowered the Jays odds from 35-to-1 to 16-1. A total of 10 clubs remain ahead of the Jays:

The Royals are the chalk horse at 4-1. They are followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers at 7-1, the St Louis Cardinals 8-1, the Nationals 9-1, New York Yankees 10-1, San Francisco Giants 14-1, the Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets at 15-1. The Houston Astros are also at 16-1.