The back of Boston’s rotation has been a mess lately. Their lack of a stable fourth and fifth starter is their most glaring weakness, albeit one they can hopefully address through the trade market. That may not be necessary, however, if Clay Buchholz can return to form. The Red Sox welcomed Buchholz back to the rotation Monday night following a brief stint in the bullpen.
Buchholz was solid in his first start since May 26, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk in five innings while striking out five . The way Boston’s been hitting this year, that would have earned him a win most nights. Not against Chris Sale, however, who limited the Sox to one run across seven innings.
It looked like Buchholz had a long night ahead of him after surrendering a leadoff homer to Tim Anderson on the first pitch. When he allowed another run in the first, Sox fans started wondering how long John Farrell’s leash would be. But Buchholz settled down after that, keeping Boston in the game by allowing just one more run over the next four innings. He exited after just 78 pitches, as Farrell did not want to over-extend him in his first start back.
Buchholz reclaimed his rotation spot after his first extended run in the bullpen. Before this season, Buchholz had relieved just twice in his 10-year career. But after allowing a 6.35 ERA through his first 10 starts, Buchholz was removed from Boston’s rotation. He quickly earned his way back with several strong relief appearances.
Unlike Roenis Elias, Joe Kelly, Frank O’Sullivan, and Henry Owens, Buchholz has a track record of success. At his best, he’s been one of the best pitchers in the American League. None of the aforementioned starters have that kind of upside. He’s only one year removed from a 3.26 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 4.65 K/BB ratio. The Red Sox should give him a few more starts, and if he’s still struggling then they can trade for someone at the deadline. For now, though, moving Buchholz back to the rotation is their best option.