It looks like Clay Buchholz is finally ready to return to the Boston Red Sox rotation.
Buchholz took to the mound for the Pawtucket Red Sox Thursday night, in the second game of the first round AAA playoff series, a game in which the PawSox won 7-2 to even the series at one apiece.
Buchholz went 3.2 innings, while giving up two runs on four hits and two walks, but did strike out five. While the stats are far from impressive in his rehab stint, his command of his pitches was in mid-season form Thursday. His fastball was in the low-to-mid 90s and had a real feel for his curve and change. His two seam fastball wasn’t great, but rarely does a pitcher go to the mound with all four of his pitches really working at full effectiveness.
It appears Buchholz could be returning to the rotation on Tuesday, which based upon rotation makeup, would have typically been a Ryan Dempster start. Dempster has been pretty clearly the worst among the six starters the Red Sox have right now, with an ERA of 4.79. Felix Doubront would be the other pitcher at risk of losing a rotation spot but second best among Red Sox active starters.
Dempster spent the majority of the 2004-2007 seasons working out of the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs, including a 33 save season in 2005. Dempster moving to the bullpen could be a huge help, as Matt Thornton and Junichi Tazawa have really struggled of late, which they proved in the sixth inning seventh inning on Thursday night.
With Buchholz finally coming back, the Red Sox might have the best rotation in baseball down the stretch, a statement that would have been laughable about two months ago. Plus, a playoff rotation of John Lackey, Jon Lester, Buchholz, and Jake Peavy is easily good enough to make the Red Sox legitimate World Series contenders.