For most of the season, Clay Buchholz has been one of the strongest candidates for the AL Cy Young award. He’s been the most dominant and consistent pitcher on the Red Sox’ staff and has finally asserted himself as a true ace.
But after the worst outing of his season in Oakland last Friday (1.0 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 5 ER), the odds of Buchholz winning the Cy Young are about the same as Boston’s chances of making the playoffs. It’s just not going to happen…
Buchholz had a brutal start against the A’s. His ERA went up more than 30 points and, not surprisingly, he no longer leads the Majors in that category. Clay’s 2.53 ERA now ranks 6th in baseball and 2nd in the American League behind Felix Hernandez’s 2.39.
The righty’s WHIP also took a sizeable hit in the Bay Area, going from 1.19 to 1.24. In that statistic, Buchholz now trails every other major AL Cy Young candidate, including Hernandez (1.09), David Price (1.21), C.C. Sabathia (1.18), Trevor Cahill (1.05), Cliff Lee (1.01), and Jon Lester (1.17).
With only 15 wins on the year, Buchholz is behind all but 2 of those pitchers. One is Lee, whose ERA with the Rangers is over 4. The other is King Felix, who’s been arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball this season.
In terms of innings (152.2) and strikeouts (104), Buchholz doesn’t exactly jump off the stat sheet either. He missed a month of action with a hamstring injury and his strikeout rate is way down from his Minor League and early Major League numbers (although that’s one of the main reasons why he’s been effective this year).
In summation, Clay Buchholz will not win the 2010 American League Cy Young Award.
The three leading candidates in my mind are Price, Sabathia, and Hernandez. The first two were on full display in Monday night’s AL East pitcher’s dual down in Tampa, and the 3rd has been better than any other AL starter in almost every significant category, except wins (thanks to Seattle’s “offense”, he’s 11-11).
It shouldn’t take away from the season Buchholz has put together to this point. He now helps to anchor the Red Sox rotation and is no longer just a trade chip, a role he assumed for the entirety of his young professional career.
But at the end of the season, he’ll unfortunately be recognized as one of, and not the best pitcher in the American League. Still, the fact that he’s even in the discussion is rewarding enough.