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With the Red Sox signing David Price and having him be their ace for years to come, I think Boston just killed two birds with one stone.
1. They finally have someone who can anchor the staff for the first time since Jon Lester.
2. Clay Buchholz doesn’t have worry about being the number 1 in the rotation anymore.
When the 2015 season began, the Red Sox were in Philadelphia for Opening Day. Manager John Farrell chose Buchholz to be the Opening Day starter, hoping that he can stay healthy and be their ace all season. As Buchholz trotted to the mound in the bottom half of the first, I was already pleased with his performance because he didn’t pull a hammy on his way to the mound. Buchholz actually had everyone raising their eyebrows after he twirled 7 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and one walk while the Red Sox gave him plenty of run support in the 8-0 victory over the Phillies. Sox fans thought that this was the year that Clay was ready to prove everyone wrong, stay healthy, and have people think that whenever he’s on the mound, his team his going to win.
You’ve got to remember that Clay’s stellar performance over the Phillies…was against the Phillies. Philadelphia has been in complete rebuild mode for the past 3 seasons ever since the Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee era slowly disintegrated. Ever since trading away their core pieces that brought this organization so much success like middle infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the only players that may put fans in the seats now is veteran slugger Ryan Howard and young outfielder Odubel Herrera, who hit just under .300 in 147 games. So with Buchholz pitching a gem against a JV lineup, fans should have waited to jump on the “Buchholz Bandwagon” and see how he did against actually contenders.
The 2015 season for the Boston Red Sox was a joke. The pitching was a joke and when the offense started off slow and couldn’t support the third worst rotation in the American League, you weren’t going to see the best results. But right before the All-Star break, the Sox won 4 straight heading into the last series vs. the first place New York Yankees. Boston was just 4.5 games out of first place at the time, so if they were able to take 2 games in the series or maybe sweep their arch rivals, they would have a lot of momentum going into the second half of the season. A red hot Clay Buchholz had won 4 straight outings and was getting the ball for the first game of the series. Fans were hoping he was ready to make the next step of being an ace by delivering a W in a big game like this.
A solo home run by Alex Rodriguez in the top of the first was just the beginning of this never-ending roller coaster. In the top of the fourth, Buchholz delivered an off speed pitch to former teammate, Stephen Drew. After the pitch, he told catcher Sandy Leon to come to the mound. As Leon jogged to the mound from home plate, John Farrell and the trainer began to follow, along with the infielders. As everyone was huddled up around Buchholz, Farrell then made a signal to the bullpen and just like that, his game was done. At the time, that was the biggest game of the season and the lights were all on Clay Buchholz. That was his chance to change people’s outlook on him and as usual, the injury bug got to him and he was placed on the 60-day DL with a right elbow strain, and ending his season.
Now throughout Buchholz’s career, there has always been one thing that has been his kryptonite and that is…well…anything, if you think about it. When I scrolling through Twitter one day, I came across something that really defined Clay Buchholz in a nutshell. It was a list of all the injuries he has sustained throughout his career. Now, some of you may think it’s silly to start a list of his past but when you look at these numbers, you come to wonder why the Red Sox still keep this guy around.
2008: 16 games missed with a right fingernail tear.
2010: 18 games with a left hamstring strain.
2011: 93 games with a lower back stress fracture.
2012: 20 games with esophagitis.
2013: 82 games with right shoulder bursitis.
2014: 28 games with a left knee hyperextension.
2015: 75 games with a right elbow strain.
If you add those games up, the total amount is 332 games missed over 7 trips to the disabled list. That’s over 2 seasons where Clay Buchholz has been on the DL throughout his 9 seasons in the MLB. And yet, the Red Sox will be paying him around 13 million dollars in 2016.
Now people always think of the 2013 season where he put up by far his best numbers. In the first half of the season, he went 9-0 with an ERA of 1.71. At the time, an obvious all-star and the front runner for the Cy Young award. But after suffering right shoulder bursitis and being shut down for a good chunk of the second half of the season, he was never the pitcher he was once before the All Star break.
With Price now being the obvious number 1 in the rotation for the Sox, 2-5 are still up in the air. With Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, and Joe Kelly fighting for those last 4 spots, you wonder if the Red Sox will ever stop looking at Buchholz as a top of the rotation pitcher and just make him a number 4 or 5 in the rotation.
People have to stop remembering what Buchholz once was and accept that he has already hit his peak. When he’s healthy, he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball. I just don’t think it is necessary to pay the guy that much money for a good month or two of pitching and then making his yearly trip to the DL. But that’s just my opinion.