Red Sox: What the starting rotation looks like now

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Clay Buchholz

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

While he won’t be handed the ball on Opening Day again this year, Buchholz has looked suspiciously like an ace at times in his career. The problem with him has always been consistency. He has gone through long stretches where he looked completely lost on the mound, which essentially sums up his entire 2014 season. As much of a lost season as that was, it came sandwiched between two seasons where he was among the best pitchers in the game.

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Unfortunately, the years where Buchholz has been at his best are often the ones that are derailed by injury. Health has always been the question that keeps him out of the conversation of being considered a true ace. The 31-year old has never tossed 190+ innings or reached 30 starts in a season before, so he can’t be categorized as the workhorse that teams need their ace to be.

With Price on board, Buchholz doesn’t have to be that horse. He won’t have the pressure of trying to be “the man” on this staff and can instead settle into being just one of the guys. Buchholz has seemed more comfortable when he’s been able to remain in the shadow of his more decorated teammates, as he’s done in the past pitching behind Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.

Fans have become frustrated with the enigma that is Buchholz, but there’s no denying his talent. He would have ranked 9th in the league with a 3.26 ERA had he pitched enough innings to qualify and his 2.7 WAR was the best on the team, placing him inside the top-20 in the league, despite pitching essentially half a season. Even in an injury shortened season, Buchholz still has significant value.

We can’t bank on Buchholz putting together a full season, but when he is available he is the clear second best option for this rotation.

Next: Eduardo Rodriguez