Buchholz Back to the Rotation

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 Buchholz Back to the Rotation. 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.

What Happens in the Boston Red Sox Rotation?

Eduardo Rodriguez landed on the 15-day DL right before the season with subluxation of his patellar tendon in his right knee and has already made two rehab starts. He is due to start one more after throwing 84 pitches in his last outing, which lasted six innings with justRed Sox Rotation three earned runs (all in the first inning) with three strikeouts. The 23-year-old retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced and will have one last start May 8th before potentially returning to the Boston Red Sox rotation on May 13th.

The all but expected conclusion is that Rodriguez will take the spot of Henry Owens in the rotation due to the fact that Owens has struggled in two of his outing with his pitch count. In his first start, the youngster lasted just 3.1 innings with four walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision. After a five-inning no-decision against the New York Yankees, the 23-year-old went just three innings while walking six and allowing two runs against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. Owens has been lackluster since is major league debut in 2015 and the 88 MPH fastball seems to not be cutting it against the tougher lineups of the majors.

With Rodriguez slotted to take the one real question mark of the Boston Red Sox rotation, what will happen when Joe Kelly returns?

Is Joe Kelly Out of the Red Sox Rotation?

Kelly had an encouraging bullpen session on Tuesday and looks to have a rehab outing on Friday, May 6th, at Triple-A Pawtucket. John Farrell expects him to make two rehab starts, but that does not mean he will be ready to go right after those two outings. If he is healthy and his shoulder responds well after both appearances, then Kelly could be back in the thick of things in the Red Sox rotation.

However, the only other spot the Red Sox can even take a look at is the up-and-down veteran Clay Buchholz. Buchholz had pitched poorly up until the seven inning performance with just a two-run homer in the first inning off the bat of Jose Abreu blemishing the outing. The 31-year-old’s ERA dropped from 6.51 to 5.71 with the outing and this start could be the start of one of one of those ones Buchholz gets on before he gets hurt. Last season, he went through a 12-start stretch with a an ERA just above 2.00 before getting hurt.

My suggestion is to keep Buchholz in the rotation to build his value and trade him before that inevitable injury that derails his trade value and his time with the Red Sox. This leaves Kelly the odd man out of the rotation, but the Red Sox could use him as an arm out of the bullpen. The bullpen depth has already increased with the return of Carson Smith and Kelly is another electric arm to use as a middle reliever if the Red Sox starters fail to make it through six innings on any given night.