Yesterday’s 8-6 win over the Atlanta Braves was a valuable game for two reasons. The first reason is obvious; the Red Sox won, breaking a ten-game losing streak. However, the second reason is less obvious, and less obviously beneficial for the Red Sox; that game showed that Clay Buchholz cannot currently be trusted in an MLB rotation and that the Red Sox need to make a change.
Buchholz’s problems appear entirely mechanical and mental right now, so further hurting his psyche with a demotion to Triple-A is not the right move (Buchholz actually does have a minor-league option). Considering his statistics on the young season, however– a 7.02 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, and .339 opponents’ batting average– the Red Sox also cannot just keep rolling him out to the mound every fifth day.
As far as temporary solutions go, the best one may be an old Red Sox standby: the good, old-fashioned phantom trip to the disabled list. Countless reports have indicated that, physically, there is nothing wrong with Buchholz; however, a trip to the 15-day disabled list may help Buchholz sort out some of his mental issues and get some rest. In fact, not only is this the easiest and most temporary solution for Buchholz, it is also likely to be the most productive, both mental and physically (if there is, in fact, anything wrong there).
From there, the issue becomes the question of who will come to Boston in Buchholz’s stead. Brandon Workman is already in the rotation with Felix Doubront on the disabled list, so he’s out of the picture. However, the Red Sox still have a number of nearly, if not fully, Major League ready pitching prospects in Triple-A. Allen Webster (3.02 ERA, 1.68 K/BB), Rubby de la Rosa (3.04 ERA, 2.26 K/BB), and Anthony Ranaudo (2.90 ERA, 1.65 K/BB) would all likely be able to step into the Red Sox’ rotation on a temporary basis.
The Red Sox are, hopefully, beginning to break out of an early season slide that has placed them last in the division. Considering that, it’s difficult to run Buchholz out every fifth day and praying for an offensive outburst like in yesterday’s ballgame. It’s clear that throwing Buchholz is not the best chance to win right now. However, if he is able to recover mentally over the course of a 15-day disabled list stint, then Buchholz absolutely gives the Red Sox to best chance to win. The phantom DL trip is clearly the best move for the present and future of both the team and Buchholz. Get it done, Ben!