At what point do the Red Sox give up on Clay Buchholz? After years of injury and inconsistency, the veteran pitcher seems to have bottomed out, and it isn’t pretty for a franchise and fan base relying on him to be a solid number two starter in a dismal rotation.
There’s a sense of impending doom whenever anybody not named David Price takes the ball, but that feeling is more intense with Clay Buchholz, who has delivered only sporadically on the immense promise shown in his rookie year. Of course, he has displayed occasional splashes of brilliance down the years, but a career WHIP of 1.304 doesn’t lie. This is a below average pitcher who essentially forces his team to score at least five runs to have any chance of winning a ballgame.
Last year, Buchholz flattered to deceive somewhat, as his 3.26 ERA in 18 starts papered over what felt like a laborious campaign. However, at the start of this season, his performance has been even more concerning. Buchholz was shelled over four innings in his first start, as the Indians knocked him around for five runs, before the Orioles matched that total with help from two mammoth home runs on Tuesday. Right now, Clay has a 10.00 ERA, which is ugly no matter how small the sample size, and no matter whether the guy has a history of slow starts.
Are we really still doing this? Is the front office genuinely serious about this rotation? I like Clay Buchholz and want the guy to succeed, but it just doesn’t seem likely at this point. He will be 32-years old in August and has yet to throw more than 189 innings in a single season. In fact, he averages just 125 innings and 20 starts per year. Being realistic, and removing all sentiment, that simply isn’t good enough for a number two starter on the Boston Red Sox. That’s a simple fact, and it needs addressing.
At this point, bringing Buchholz back for another season in such an important role seems like a mistake. Dave Dombrowski did well to sign Price and trade for Craig Kimbrel, instantly upgrading the staff, but there is still so much more to be done, as the opening days of this season have demonstrated. The Red Sox have been very good offensively, averaging almost six runs per game and showing real heart to fight back from losing positions, only for the pitching to falter. Naturally, no fan base can expect a perfect blend of offense and run prevention – this is baseball, after all – but Red Sox Nation still demands better.
Once a precious prospect, Clay Buchholz has unfortunately become the face of everything that is wrong with the Red Sox pitching staff. Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello must also improve hugely, but in all honesty, they’ve never shown enough capability to fuel immense frustration. Buchholz, meanwhile, once promised so much, only to break hearts at every turn. For many years, Red Sox fans have waited for him to put it all together for an extended stretch, to deliver a full season of health and dominance. It just never happens. The wait goes on. Sooner or later, this madness has to end.