After yet another miserable outing by Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox are faced with a tough question. What are they going to do with the wiry right-hander?
Buchholz, now 29 years old, is past the point of being considered young talent. In what should be the prime of his career, Buchholz continues to be all over the place, mentally and physically. A year ago at this point, it looked as if Buchholz was emerging as the team’s ace. Through the end of May, Buchholz was 7-0 with a 1.73 ERA. If he had those same numbers this year, he would be leading the AL ERA race by about .60 over Masahiro Tanaka. However, this season he is sporting a dandy 7.02 ERA, which puts him dead last in the MLB among pitchers with ten or more starts. In fact, there are only two other pitchers in that category with an ERA over 6.00.
Going along nicely with that is his 1.98 WHIP, which also puts him at the bottom of the barrel in the MLB. The only other pitcher with ten starts and a WHIP above 1.60 is Tim Lincecum, who sits at 1.61. So, is it time to consider a major change regarding Clay Buchholz? Well, he may have just opened the door for such a move.
Buchholz had excuses galore after one of the worst outings of his career on Monday. He was exhausted after running to first base on his single. He “wasn’t ready” for the 84 degree heat. He lost seven pounds in his three innings of work (which puts him down to about 95 pounds). And supposedly, he may have an actual injury to his left knee, which he landed on awkwardly several times during his deliveries.
This gives the Red Sox a golden opportunity which they should take if they want to continue their winning trend. It is time to put Buchholz on the DL. He might be able to pitch, but given his track record, does he even want to? Last season, his neck and shoulder problems took him away from his terrific season, despite no actual injury being seen in tests. This year, he continues to put the Sox in a position to lose, so why bother pitching him?
Instead, the Sox should give one of their young guns a shot at the rotation. They can’t be any worse than Buchholz has been and they could be a midseason surprise that helps the team back into the playoff hunt. Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Rubby De La Rosa have all pitched well in Pawtucket this season and could be ready to break through if called upon. Webster and De La Rosa have both had major league stints and may be able to make the transition to the big leagues better than Ranaudo, who has no MLB experience. However, Ranaudo, who stands at 6’7″, may be able to get by on pure power with his downhill 95 MPH fastball.
While this is all happening, Buchholz can sit and tend to his problems. Perhaps he will comeback and pitch like he is capable of. Maybe the Red Sox send him away in a trade at the deadline. Buchholz still has plenty of value and could be pieced together for an impact player, such as the man-child Giancarlo Stanton. Imagine him putting balls onto the Pike in a Red Sox uniform.
While my Stanton hopes may be a long shot, my plans for Buchholz may be reality. Don’t be surprised if he is the next player on the Red Sox DL, which is already quite full. Clay’s confidence must be shot at this point. I know that I am scared every time he takes the mound and I wouldn’t be surprised if his team is getting to that point too.