The Boston Red Sox have just recently picked up Clay Buchholz‘ option for the 2017 season. With that being said, what can we expect from the 32-year-old right-hander in 2017?
Clay Buchholz has been with the Boston Red Sox since his rookie season in 2007, and the journey has been everything but consistent. We have seen the best of Clay Buchholz, like his All-Star years in 2010 and 2013, and we have seen his not-so-great years, which happens to be a lot of them.
Flashback to 2007. Rookie Clay Buchholz takes the mound on September 1st against the Baltimore Orioles. It’s only his second major-league start of his career, his first being a win where he gave up 4 runs on 8 hits through 6 innings against the Angels.
What can you expect from him at this point in his career? Well, not much, really. But what Clay Buchholz did that game against Baltimore is something that will forever be in the history books. On September 1st, 2007, rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles.
This was truly an incredible performance by Buchholz, and it gave Boston hope that this kid would be a vital part of their future. Buchholz finished 2007 with a 3-1 record and a 1.59 ERA.
Fast forward a year. The Boston Red Sox are the reigning World Series Champions, and had become a true competitor in baseball, securing their second World Series Trophy in just 4 years.
Clay Buchholz is back in the rotation, the kid who threw a no-hitter in his second career start ever. Sadly, Buchholz’ 2008 season was rather disappointing. In 16 games, Buchholz posted a 2-9 record with a 6.75 ERA.
Mr.Inconsistency At His Finest
In 2009, Clay bounced back and had himself a fine season. In 16 games pitched, he went 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA.
By looking at his first three seasons, you can kind of see a pattern. It goes from good, to bad, to good again. So if you were to guess his performance in 2010, what would you say? Going by the pattern, bad would be the answer. Well that’s not at all the case in 2010.
The 2010 season was arguably Clay Buchholz’ best season of his career. In 28 games pitched, Buchholz went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. These numbers granted Buchholz a spot on his first All-Star team, and he later finished 6th in AL Cy Young Award voting.
Fast forward again three seasons to 2013. This happens to be Clay’s second All-Star season of his career, and also the year Boston went on to win their 3rd World Series in 10 seasons. Clay posted a 12-1 record with a 1.74 ERA. Simply dominant.
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2014 was Buchholz’ worst year statistically since 2008. In 28 games, he had a record of 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA. This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say inconsistent.
You know how much talent the guy has, because you’ve seen it. You’ve seen him go out there and mow guys down. You’ve seen him dominate some of the best teams in the league, which is why it’s so frustrating to see him perform so poorly.
In 2015 Clay only pitched in 18 games. He went an even 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA.
Now we get to the 2016 season. This season Clay was all over the place, literally. He was in and out of the rotation, as he took a few trips to the bullpen as a reliever. Clay pitched in 16 games as a reliever, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.57 ERA.
As a starter, Clay started 21 games, going 6-8 with an ERA just over 5. You can see that his numbers as a reliever weren’t bad at all, which is a reason why he got a spot back in the rotation. If you look at his numbers as a starter, it almost makes you cringe.
But most of his bad performances this year came during the first half, where he posted a 5.91 ERA. The second half was much better, as he went 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA. Because of this, Clay’s ugly first half started to fade away as fans were pleased with his second half performances that helped the Red Sox secure the American League East.
When Boston trailed Cleveland 0-2 in the ALDS, it was undecided who would take the mound for the Sox while facing elimination. Manager John Farrell made his decision, and the decision was Clay Buchholz for Game 3. Even when Game 3 was rained out and postponed to the next day, Farrell still went with Buchholz even when having ace Rick Porcello available. That’s really saying something.
Buchholz ended up pitching just 4 innings as he gave up 2 runs on 6 hits. Even though Boston was forced to go to their bullpen early, the performance from Clay Buchholz was not a bad one at all. The Red Sox ended up losing that game by a single run, and were swept by the Cleveland Indians who eventually went on to win the ALCS and lose to the Cubs in the seventh game of the World Series.
So this leads us to the question. What can we expect from Clay Buchholz during the 2017 season? You can either expect him to have an incredible year like he has many times before, or fail to be that guy like he’s also done many times before. The inconsistency is real, Clay. We can only hope you stay on the better side of that.