For the Boston Red Sox, starting pitcher Clay Buchholz has had a season to forget.
Despite pitching well in his previous two starts and looking dominant through the first four innings of the game last night, a rough fifth inning did Buchholz in, as he took the eventual 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He now has a 5-8 record, which isn’t bad given his awful 5.94 ERA. All this a year after going 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA.
Buchholz’s toughness and durability have been criticized for a few years now, and this season certainly doesn’t help his case. Personally, I don’t believe it has anything to do with the former as much as the latter. Think back to the 2013 postseason; Buchholz was obviously feeling fatigued and couldn’t throw his pitches the way he was used to. However, he pushed through, and if you remember in Game 4 of the World Series he battled for four innings surrendering just three hits and one run to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sure it wasn’t the type of start Red Sox fans or even Buchholz himself was used to, but it was a gutsy one. That game could have gone much differently. His fastball was topping out at 89, but he worked the strike zone and did everything he could to keep Boston in the game. As everyone knows the Red Sox went on to win the game, and although it was a no decision for Buchholz, it was an effort that showed me he is tough.
His durability, however, is what comes into question after struggling in 2014. It was worse in the beginning of the year and then he went to the disabled list. I was actually in Rochester to see his rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket, and he looked like vintage Buchholz, tossing six innings of shutout baseball. He was called back up and for a few games and pitched well only to fall apart again. The same thing happened last night. Buchholz had pitched great in his previous two starts, was solid through the first four innings of the game and then the wheels fell off.
As disappointing as this season has been for both the Red Sox and Buchholz, I’m not ready to give up on him as a starter just yet. When he is on he is obviously a great pitcher and gives Boston a chance to win every start. Hopefully he can take the long offseason to rest his arm, work on some mechanical things and come back in 2015 as the dominant pitcher we know he can be.