The Detroit Tigers made a statement when they acquired David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

With a starting rotation that already featured a pair of Cy Young Award winners in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander as well as Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello, adding Price gave the Tigers arguably the top staff in the American League—a unit built for the postseason.

“Simply put, Price makes the Tigers’ rotation the envy of the bulk of the baseball world,” wrote Grantland’s Jonah Keri in the wake of the trade. “While Detroit was going to make the postseason with or without Price, he’ll give them an undeniable edge in October.”

Naturally, one would think that being traded to a playoff contender, let alone a preseason favorite to win the World Series such as the Tigers, would come with a tremendous amount of pressure.

But for Price, a four-time All-Star and winner of the 2012 AL Cy Young Award, being expected to help his team reach the postseason is nothing new.

“I really haven’t felt any pressure with the Tigers,” Price told Bleacher Report. “The only thing that’s really changed is that I have new teammates and a new home crowd, but it’s still the same game I’ve played my entire life and I know I just need to go out there and have fun.”

However, while Price was strong down the stretch for the Tigers and helped them clinch the AL Central with a scoreless outing on the final day of the season, his journey to the postseason with his new club was anything but smooth.

And with an underwhelming postseason resume, it’s safe to say that the 29-year-old left-hander has plenty to prove this October.

Price performed as advertised in his first four starts with Detroit, as he picked up his third complete game of the season, pitched to a 2.35 ERA and held opposing hitters to a miserable .157/.202/.306 batting line. He worked at least eight innings in three of the four outings, striking out 32 batters in 30.2 innings.

Then came Price’s home start on Aug. 27 against the New York Yankees, when he allowed a career-worst eight runs on 12 hits and departed the game after only two innings.

The loss dropped the Tigers to 2.5 games behind the surging Kansas City Royals in the division and brought concerns about the team’s second-half struggles to a head.

Though the overall 3.59 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 77.2 innings appear solid at first glance, it was a very mixed bag of results in 11 Tigers starts for Price. He surrendered 22 runs over four poor starts, yet just nine in his other seven.

“Staying consistent is the biggest thing, just going out there every fifth day and giving the team a chance to win,” Price explained when asked about his late-season struggles.

“It’s something I haven’t done as well with the Tigers as I have in the past, but it’s a long process and my work is never done. I look for ways to get better every day and I know the results will come.”

And as a pitcher supported by Tampa Bay’s No. 27-ranked offense just two months ago, he’s simply enjoyed being part of his new team, on which he’s just one of numerous perennial All-Stars.

“You know, it’s kind of surreal being around these guys,” he said.

“Our team is stacked with superstars and really good veterans like Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, who show the younger guys how to go about their business. To me, I think that’s been the coolest part.”

As for his Cy Young Award-winning rotation mates Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the three of them already seem to be clicking. 

“We sit there during the game and discuss a bunch of different stuff. For example, Verlander and I were talking about how Scherzer started throwing a cutter last night. There’s always some type of pitching conversation taking place.”

Unfortunately, both hurlers failed to tell him their secrets for getting to the field, an external pressure the left-hander didn’t see coming.

“It’s a new city and I’m just trying to make sure I don’t get lost going to and from the field,” he said while laughing.

“I think the first five times I got lost even while using my GPS, but I’ve been getting more comfortable with my surroundings and it’s gotten better as time has gone on.”

But with a must-win ALDS Game 3 matchup with the Orioles on the horizon, Price now will have to answer questions about his prior struggles in the postseason. The Tigers’ season depends on it.

“Detroit’s drastic change of direction since landing Price has shifted its needs,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Anthony Witrado back in late August. “Now the Tigers are asking something historic of their newest marquee member, one they initially acquired to make a deep team even deeper instead of out of necessity.”

Price’s first taste of the postseason came as a rookie in 2008, when he emerged as a late-inning weapon out of the Rays bullpen and helped the team reach the World Series. He pitched to a 1.59 ERA over five outings spanning 5.2 innings.

But the left-hander’s last three trips to the postseason have been a different story.

Price has yet to record a victory in the postseason as a starter, as he notched both his win and save in 2008 in relief.

His October struggles also played a role in the Rays’ failure to beat Texas in back-to-back division series (2010-11), while his lone 2013 ALDS start in Game 2 against the Red Sox was by far the worst of his postseason career.

With Boston already leading the best-of-five series, 1-0, Price was shelled for seven runs on nine hits, including six extra-base hits with a pair of home runs by David Ortiz, over seven shaky innings. The Rays ultimately dropped the contest, 7-4, and were eliminated from the playoffs in four games.

Price acknowledged that his pitch execution, which he referred to as the “name of the game,” in his previous playoffs outings has been disappointing.

“Executing pitches was something I didn’t do in a couple starts,” he conceded. “But other than a few innings I still feel like I’ve thrown the ball well and haven’t worried about the results.”

Luckily, Price will have an opportunity to rewrite his own postseason narrative when he takes the mound for the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALDS against Baltimore on Sunday.

“My goal obviously is to pitch deep into the game, because the longer I stay in there, there’s a good chance we’re going to put up some runs and win a ballgame.”

David Price has become one of baseball’s more decorated pitchers since breaking into the major leagues back in 2008, but there’s still one thing missing from his mantle:

“I just want to win a World Series.”

Well it’s going to take a big reversal of October fortunes for the Tigers and from Price himself to help make that happen, as they now face elimination down 0-2 to the Baltimore Orioles.

That path to redemption starts Sunday, and the Tigers had better hope that Price is up for the challenge.


David Price spoke to Bleacher Report as part of the new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video game campaign. It will be available in stores on Nov. 4 for all gamers looking to get involved.

For those wondering about Price’s gaming style, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s anything but a camper.

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