The Boston Red Sox failed in their attempt to get that quality pitcher that is designated an “Ace.” The pitcher that looks to stop losing streaks, rack up some serious innings, gives bullpens a rest and is the one to rally around in the playoffs.
Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester provided that during their tenure in Boston – especially in the playoffs. Schilling and Beckett both had injuries impact they’re regular season performance, but Lester managed that consistency with aplomb in regular and post season.
The look is inward and the only one on the staff that could be the Capo di tuitti capi of pitchers is Clay Buchholz. The Faberge Egg. Glassman. Mr. Fragile has had some tantalizing glimpses of that greatness.
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In 2007 I witnessed Buchholz pitch a no-hitter. An electric moment in a season that would produce the second championship of this century. I also had the opportunity to see 2010 go down the drain in a game in San Francisco when Buchholz attempted to channel his inner Usain Bolt and come up lame.
The 2010 season was one where RSN surely saw the next great ace in Buchholz. A 17-7 record and great metrics resulting in a sixth place finish for the Cy Young Award. Without that infamous sprint Buchholz may have notched 20 wins and led Boston into the World Series.
2013 it was the first half of the season. Virtually untouchable. An All-Star. A potential multiple award winner. Then, the injury and poof. Another addition to the laundry list of what could have been.
In 2014 the team was a performance embarrassment and the pitching embarrassment was led by Buchholz. There was nothing of merit to look at. Each month was a simulacrum of the previous month. Buchholz was a pitching piñata.
So why the optimism?
At age thirty it is make or break time for Buchholz. A certain level of pathos is present when Buchholz is discussed. The negatives quickly surface with any conversation on Mr. Buchholz, but there is also that “if only” that invariably seeps in. Buchholz does not live in a vacuum. When players say they do not read the papers, blogs, internet, etc. it is a Pinocchio moment. They do.
Buchholz may not be a math whiz, but he is capable of understanding how many zeros can potential fit into a contract for a player that performs at a high standard – especially pitchers. To continue to receive that “Big kiss” the numbers must justify it. The numbers for Buchholz are close to justifying a big “See ya!”
Buchholz is a solid citizen in the area. He sponsors the Buchholz Bowl and has a foundation. His wife, Lindsey, is active in a variety of charitable events. In interviews Buchholz may seem as inspiring as white paint on a wall, but actions trump words in this instance. Buchholz appears unassuming. Maybe some transfer that to his mound work?
So in spring training expect the usual blather of clichés with Buchholz. He’ll be healthy, happy, working hard, focused, kind to puppies and expecting great things from the team and of himself. So the optimism for me is he has something to prove and my bet is he’ll rebound.
Now….where did I put that Kool-Aid?