Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz was smashed early in yesterday’s game. Will he find consistency or will he pull a ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ all season?
Buchholz lasted only four innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits, including a home run, with three walks and four strikeouts against the Cleveland Indians. He was saved from posting a loss because the offense swooped in and tied the game, only to fall short at the end. However, if Buchholz didn’t put the Red Sox in that big of a hole in the first place, the team would have won two straight games to start the season.
And, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.
In 2015, after a convincing win over the Philadelphia Phillies to start the season, Buchholz pitched just 3.1 innings against the New York Yankees, allowing nine earned runs on nine hits, two of them were home runs. He went 7-7 in 18 starts, where he allowed four or more runs in five of those games. In 2014, he had 16 games of four or more runs. In seven of those appearances, he gave up six or more runs.
Those are not the numbers of an ace starting pitcher. However, only three years ago, Buchholz was mowing down the competition, posting a 12-1 record and a 1.74 ERA, on route to a World Series championship.
His career numbers are a definite rollercoaster. From his 2-9 record in 2008, Buchholz leaped into stardom with a 17-7 record in 2010. Much of his results stem from his inconsistency in the strike zone. BrooksBaseball.net has Buchholz getting smacked around in the zone, where opposing batters are only under the .250-mark on the right edge of the plate. The rest of the plate, he ranges from .266 to .358, not exactly filling people with hope that he can strike players out easily if he stays in the strike zone.
The opposing slugging percentages match that story. Even out of the strike zone, batters seem to have strong drives off of Buchholz. Only at the low corners does he seems to be safe, but how often are hitters going to want to swing at those spots anyways?
Buchholz is clearly capable of great things, as he finished off 2015, before an injury, with a 5-1 record in eight starts. None of those games got out of hand, keeping the run totals down for the offense to overcome. It’s possible that Buchholz could just have had a slow start to this season with the previous game; however, if it is a sign of the dip in the rollercoaster again, the Red Sox may want to know who’s driving it: Jeykll or Hyde?