Without question, the Boston Red Sox starting pitcher who has the best stuff is Clay Buchholz. He has the ability to be an ace, and we saw that ability in 2013. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get to see enough.
Buchholz’ biggest issue has always been his health. It appears as though every season he is getting injured and is out for an extended period of time. If it isn’t his shoulder, it’s his back. If it isn’t his back, it’s his neck. But as the great Gilda Radner would have said on “Saturday Night Live” back in the day, it’s always something. And that’s a shame.
He was great when he could get on the mound last season to the tune of a 12- 1 record and a 1.74 earned run average. Buchholz has been an All-Star twice but has yet to actually pitch in a game because he has been injured. It is said that he didn’t believe he could pitch well when he wasn’t 100 percent, but the World Series game that he pitched against the St.Louis Cardinals made him think otherwise. He did very well, getting major league batters out when it was obvious he wasn’t at his best. One of the best games that I have ever seen regarding a starting pitcher not being at all their best physically but still being able to get batters out was the 1999 ALDS between the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.
Pedro Martinez had hurt his back in Game 1, and it looked like he was done for the season and so were the Red Sox. However, they fought and fought and were able to bring the series to a Game 5. If you saw that game, you will never forget Martinez coming in out of the bullpen and the Cleveland fans absolutely going silent. He didn’t have any sort of fastball, but he used his off-speed stuff to keep Cleveland completely confused and unable to do anything against him for six innings. Boston ended up winning that series, and that was a warrior at his best.
The Red Sox need Buchholz to be healthy and at the top of the rotation all year long for them to be able to contend in 2014. I feel that starting pitching is going to be a huge key to their success this upcoming season, and they need as many quality starters as they can get. Having a healthy Buchholz will go a very long way towards a deep 2014 postseason run.
He’s got the stuff; he just needs the stamina to keep it up all year.