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The parallel universe of David Price and Clayton Kershaw

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David Price and Clayton Kershaw have a lot in common. Starting with the basics, they are both left-handed pitchers who throw hard and have led their respective leagues in strikeouts at least once.

Both have won Cy Young Awards in their relatively brief major league careers. Price was honored by the American League in 2012 after a spectacular 20-5 season with the Rays.

Kershaw is a three-time winner in the National League and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2014. Both pitched in the major leagues for the first time in 2008.

Price has pitched in the post season every year since his first year with the exception of 2009. This year, Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are participating in the playoffs for the fifth time since his rookie season of 2008.

Another similarity, this one unfortunate, exists between the two. Both have dramatically underperformed in the post season.

Thursday was the latest disappointing outing for Price. Pitching for Toronto in the American League Divisional Series, he allowed home runs to the Texas Rangers’ number 8 hitter, Rougned Odor, and number 9 hitter, Robinson Chirinos, in the Texas Rangers’ lineup in the Blue Jays’ 5-3 loss. He gave up 5 earned runs in 7 innings and hit Chirinos twice before Chirinos took Price deep.

Price has never won a post season start and has not left the field as a winner since October 19, 2008, a game Rays’ fans will always remember. Price, who was on the Rays’ postseason roster only because of injury, came in to get a four-out save in Game 7 against the Boston Red Sox, sending Tampa Bay to the World Series.

There could be no more pressure than what Price endured that day. He faced a bases loaded situation in the top of the eighth inning, nursing a two-run lead.

After striking out J.D. Drew and handling Boston in the ninth inning, it was a safe bet the lanky lefty from Vanderbilt would be a post season force for years to come. He had earlier picked up the win in relief in Game 2 of that series. Things have not worked out that way.

Since 2008, Price is 0-6 with a 5.23 Earned Run Average in six starts with the Rays, Detroit Tigers and now the Blue Jays. Going into Thursday’s game, he was 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA since coming to Toronto at the trading deadline. He can only hope to get another chance later in this series.

Kershaw will start Game 1 of their National League Division Series for the Dodgers against the New York Mets on Friday. He has won just one playoff start, but has had similar results as Price in his other post season outings.

In 6 post season series, Kershaw is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA. His main nemesis is the St. Louis Cardinals who have raked him for 18 earned runs in 22 innings over the past two post season series, a 7.26 ERA.

After being one of the worst hitting teams in baseball during the first half, the Mets have gotten healthy and enter their division series with the Dodgers on a roll. Kershaw is 6-0 with a 1.34 ERA in 9 career starts against the Mets.

Who will show up? The recent post season Kershaw or the guy who went 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA?

If it’s the latter, the Dodgers have a great chance to go up 2-0 since 19-game winner Zack Greinke and his 1.66 ERA will pitch for Los Angeles. Games 1 and 2 are in Dodger Stadium.

Game time is 6:45 EDT and will be shown on TBS.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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