I want Clay Buchholz to be the next great starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. I really do. I’m just having a hard time picturing that ever happening though.
Buchholz has shown us in 2013 that he’s capable of being a No. 1 pitcher on any staff in MLB. His 9-0 record, 1.71 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 12 starts tells us that. But what good are stats like this if he’s not dependable? Buchholz has a propensity for injury. During his short career, the Red Sox have handled him with the utmost care and caution, as his frame is not ideal. He weighs in at a generous 190 pounds despite being 6-foot-3.
In 2007 despite pitching a no-hitter the Red Sox shut him down and he didn’t pitch during that postseason in which the Red Sox won the World Series. In 2008 he missed time because of a torn fingernail, and ended up having his worst season as a pro. 2009 was a bounce back season for him in which he split time between Boston and Pawtucket but remained injury free.
His best season was 2010 when he made the All-Star team by finishing with a 17-7 record and an ERA of 2.33. However, he did not pitch in that All-Star Game because he pulled a hamstring three weeks previous to the Summer Classic. In 2011, he came into the season with high expectations after his breakout 2010 campaign. But alas, he disappointed after suffering a stress fracture in his back and missing the entire second half of the season.
In 2012, Buchholz missed several games because of both a “gastrointestinal situation” and esophagitis. I only mention that because this is the type of injury that it seems only happens to pitchers like Buchholz. Imagine Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez missing games in 2004 because of injuries like this. It never would’ve happened.
Now in 2013, Buchholz has once again teased Red Sox fans. It looked as if we had one of the best young pitchers in baseball. But a bad night’s sleep in June has left him sidelined with a “neck strain” for over a month. His return has been pushed back time and time again because according to Buchholz, he still feels “sore.” I’m sorry, but this is weak. Your teammates are sore every day. How do you think David Ortiz feels after running all around the bases at his age and with his weight?
Buchholz needs to step it up and pitch. The AL East is going to be an intensely competitive division in the second half. With the new playoff format in which the wild card team must win a play-in game just to make the divisional round, winning the division outright has added importance. The Red Sox will have trouble doing that if Buchholz doesn’t start playing through a little bit of pain.