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Clay Buchholz has the Red Sox in a bind

May 6, 2012, 8:50 PM EDT

Clay Buchholz, Bobby Valentine AP

Clay Buchholz is throwing in the low-90s consistently. His curveball looked plenty good today. He’s been inconsistent with his changeup, but that hardly explains the 9.09 ERA.

Buchholz gave up five more runs in 3 2/3 innings Sunday in a no-decision in what ended up being a 17-inning loss to the Orioles. He’s allowed at least five runs in all six of his outings this season. The three homers he surrendered today brought his season total to 10 in 32 2/3 innings. That’s one more than he allowed in 173 2/3 innings while winning 17 games for the Red Sox in 2010.

Obviously, Buchholz’s command has been an issue. Four more walks today brought his season total to 19. Still, even more than that, it seems like a lack of confidence is his biggest problem.

Questions about his mental toughness dogged Buchholz as he initially struggled to establish himself in Boston. He made such oddly timed pickoff throws to first and sometimes just seemed to shrink on the mound during his first three years before his breakthrough campaign two seasons ago. He hasn’t gotten himself back into some of those odd habits, but there’s certainly been some indecisiveness on the mound during his six starts this year.

For all of his struggles, Buchholz hasn’t really hurt the Red Sox yet. The team is 3-3 with him on the mound (compared to 8-13 the rest of the time) and two of the losses came in extra innings. Still, the club can’t run him out there with a 9.00 ERA for too much longer. If he’s not better next time out, the Red Sox may have to option him to Triple-A and give Andrew Miller or someone else a crack at his rotation spot. They might actually need to do it now after exhausting their bullpen Sunday.

  1. baseballisboring - May 6, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    It sucks to watch, because he has 4 really good pitches. He no-hit the Orioles in his 2nd MLB start…he had great strikeout rates in the minors…he’s just never been able to 100% put it together. He was pretty good the last two years when he was healthy, but there was always more potential…with his stuff he should be an ace. But his control is just bad. Even aside from the walks. He’ll get ahead 1-2, then throw two breaking balls 3 feet off the plate and then leave a fastball right over it. It’s rare that I question a player’s “mental toughness”, it’s too easy to do that when somebody struggles, but he nibbles so much and looks so dejected every time he loses that it’s worth questioning. I’ve been rooting for him so hard since he came up, I’d hate to see him relegated to the bullpen or something. Hope he figures it out.

  2. deathmonkey41 - May 6, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    He looks like a white-trashy Leprechaun

    • baseballisboring - May 6, 2012 at 11:28 PM

      He’s also a millionaire that plays sports professionally and has a smokin’ hot wife. Sucks to be him.

      • stex52 - May 7, 2012 at 8:57 AM

        Well, you just took away all of my sympathy for him.

  3. aceshigh11 - May 6, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    The entire Red Sox roster has the Red Sox in a bind.

    This team is a goddamned Greek tragedy (thank you, Steve Buscemi).

  4. EK Ohio - May 6, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Buchholz seems to have acquired Matsuzaka-itis, where instead of believing in his stuff he tries to be too cute. Nibbling and not putting people away with his best pitch. I’m not sure what all these other pitching coaches since John Farrell have been telling the Sox pitchers, but honestly, the biggest mistake this team has made might have been letting Farrell go to the Jays.

    • aceshigh11 - May 6, 2012 at 10:13 PM

      Funnily enough, Red Sox fans were kicking John Farrell around quite a bit before he left for the Jays too, especially in ’09…same old shit, “He’s incompetent”, “He’s not teaching fundamentals”, blah blah blah.

      Well, he’s been gone over 2 years, and Young and McClure haven’t done a damn thing.

      At some point, you can only fire so many coaches and managers before you realize the players themselves are the problem.

      • jdl1325 - May 7, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        McClure’s track record doesn’t really scream for success, but Curt Young got better than expected results in Oakland before coming to Boston and their again this season after leaving. I’d be more inclined to lay this at the foot of the pitchers themselves than at anything the coach is doing or not doing.

  5. hittfamily - May 6, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    He needs to call Eric Cartman and get some black market KFC, because he clearly isn’t the same without it.

  6. 13yrsmlbvet - May 6, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Great stuff no question. He just does not have the ability to prepare physically, mentally or fundamentally to allow his talent to emerge consistently. Very immature in a lot of ways. Will not work between starts with effort or detail. He has physical limitations with hip mobility that will have him battling health issues his whole career. Body is not built to physically endure and the mind is not mentally tough to find a way to be consistent. But, hey, he got his money so why should he care?

    • aceshigh11 - May 6, 2012 at 10:07 PM

      13 years in MLB? That’s quite impressive.

      Your perspective would be beyond valuable to the HBT community on a whole range of issues…and everything you said about Buchholz seems to be true, unfortunately for Red Sox fans.

  7. ningenito78 - May 6, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Well he was really good on Tosh.O so there’s that.

  8. ningenito78 - May 6, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Aceshigh- ‘funnily’ is my new word. Thanks bro. Love it. Not being sarcastic. Love it.

  9. drewsylvania - May 6, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    Send him down. He’s a mess, has options, and no team needs 13 pitchers.

  10. ray1950 - May 6, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Buchhoz hasn’t really hurt Boston yet? … Nonsense. He,, like virtually all of Boston’s starters, depletes the bullpen every damn game he starts.

  11. uyf1950 - May 6, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    To quote the writer of the piece “He’s been inconsistent with his changeup, but that hardly explains the 9.09 ERA.”

    How about the fact that Buchholz has given up at least 5 ER’s is every single one of his starts this season as the explanation. Sometimes you don’t need to look beyond the obvious for the answer.

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