Clay Buchholz has missed a lot of time.
So much time, in fact, that you forget that when the flowers were blooming and the birds were singing in April and May, Buchholz was one of baseball’s best pitchers. Buchholz made 12 starts before he went down with shoulder discomfort, with the Boston Red Sox winning 11 of those 12 starts. He was a ridiculous 9-0, and his 1.71 ERA was tops in the AL.
Only one of his starts rated as non-quality, and he still pitched fairly well, giving up four earned runs in six innings while striking out nine Minnesota Twins on May 6.
The case could easily be made that had Buchholz not sustained the injury, it would have been him and not Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer who would have started the All-Star game for the AL. Early on, he was a big part of the Red Sox’ turnaround in 2013.
The Red Sox picked up the slack while he was gone, getting solid efforts from the Allen Webster‘s and Brandon Workman‘s of the world before acquiring Jake Peavy to fill his rotation spot, and have been able to maintain a slight lead in the AL East in his absence. Now nearing three months since his last start, Buchholz made a rehab start for Class A Lowell on Sunday.
Although he only lasted 0.2 inning and threw 38 pitches (the Lowell defense was nice enough to greet him with three first-innings errors), Buchholz said he felt no limitations in his shoulder and topped out at 89 mph, an encouraging sign for the Red Sox organization — and Red Sox fans for that matter.
If the Red Sox want to make a run deep into the postseason, they need this guy healthy and performing. Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Jake Peavy are all good pitchers, but they aren’t aces.
Clay Buchholz is an ace. And it’s hard to win a World Series without one.