Clay Buchholz stakes his claim as the Boston Red Sox top starter
There have been very few things to be happy about as a Boston Red Sox fan this season. In fact, I can count the number of things on one hand:
- The emergence of Will Middlebrooks as a legitimate MLB ready player has expedited a mini-youth movement for the Boston Red Sox. Granted, the Boston Red Sox have a degrading farm system filled with average to above-average prospects and fans shouldn’t expect a full on Red Sox youth movement any time soon, but still. Middlebrooks has been good and that has been a good thing.
- Cody Ross’ walk-off home-run during the middle of July felt like a moment that was about to catapult the Boston Red Sox on a run into a playoff position. We all know that never materialized, but it was still fun watching the Cody bat-flip followed by Alfredo Aceves tossing blue powerade onto the catcher dog-pile.
- David Ortiz took offense to the Red Sox contract offer (which, once again he doesn’t have to sign and has no reason to bitch) and decided to put together a monster season before falling victim to the Red Sox injury bug. As it goes with every Boston Red Sox injury, Ortiz has been expected back in a couple days about five times already this season. Once again, if the Boston Red Sox medical staff told me I had lung cancer, I would get about five different opinions before I started selling meth to pay for the medical bills.
- The 2012 Boston Red Sox season will likely end without making the playoffs. This is a good thing. As Too Many Men on the Ice’s Billy Bryson tweeted to me the other day, “What sucks is if the Red Sox make a run at the wild card and make the playoffs this team. WON’T be blown up”. Trust me, this Boston Red Sox team needs to be blown up. There are too many clubhouse and team building problems for this team to function. This team needs to fall so it can pick it self up again. Yes that was a Batman reference. Yes I’m a nerd.
The fifth thing was something that sort of came out of no where in the past two months and that has been Clay Buchholz. All season long, the Boston Red Sox pitching staff has been the Achilles heel of this baseball club but every time the Boston Red Sox needed a stopper in the rotation, it has been Buchholz. He has only given up more than three runs twice since the end of May, struck out 53 batters and walked 14 in 10 starts and 75.1 innings pitched.
It’s also hard to pinpoint a highlight for Clay Buchholz. There was 8 innings and 1 run against the White Sox on the aforementioned Cody Ross walk-off night that kept the Red Sox alive for the late game heroics. There was a complete game four-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in June when the Red Sox were trying to jump back into the playoff race. Everything crested into last night’s start. Quickly falling in the standings and needing to start a run now if they wanted any chance at the wild-card, the Boston Red Sox got one of the best performances of the season out of Buchholz. He went 9 innings, struck out six and only allowed two runs as the Boston Red Sox one the game against the Indians 3-2. This is all coming from a pitcher who was a huge question mark coming into the season due to back problems the season before. Incredibly impressive stuff for the young kid. Even the sabermetrics technically agree with him, although his FIP isn’t nearly low enough to off-set his bad start in April.
Jon Lester was supposed to be the number one starter this season and Josh Beckett was expected to put up similar a performance that he did last season, but neither have come through. Through his performance, Buchholz has proved one thing. If by the grace of the baseball gods the Boston Red Sox get to the one game playoff wild-card, Clay Buchholz should get the ball, and somehow, I would feel confident about it.