Clay Buchholz‘ long and winding rehab road continues today with a significant step forward. At last Buchholz is going to pitch off a mound to live batters as part of his final tune-ups before rejoining the Red Sox if successful.
Before going on the DL since June 9 with a right shoulder bursa sac strain Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts. The value of his successful return to the Red Sox rotation would be inestimable down the stretch and potentially into the playoffs. Jon Lester in particular seemed to thrive on the 1-2 punch that he and Buchholz provided early in the year.
With Lester looking like he’s getting back to form over his past two starts, John Lackey appearing ever more like the Lackey of old and Felix Doubront emerging in the second half as a solid back end starter, Boston’s rotation could become as tough as it’s been all season.
As part of two or three rehab starts, Buchholz is scheduled to throw three innings and up to 45 to 50 pitches today. With time running out on the minor league schedule he might pitch in a minor league playoff game. There is another option.
“If we’re limited by options then after this second start, there’s always the possibility to bring him back here and have the multi-inning guy right on top of him and continue the progression,” said manager John Farrell to MLB.com’s Ian Browne.