After a disappointing April, starter Clay Buchholz has to prove that he can be successful or the Red Sox will trade him come July
The Boston Red Sox starting rotation has been a mixed bag so far this season. Some have shined throughout April while a handful have landed on the disabled list. Then there are the ones that have performed poorly. Veteran starter Clay Buchholz would fall into this category.
So far this year, Buchholz has a 6.51 ERA with a 0-3 losing record. He has allowed 20 runs over five starts and has a 1.59 WHIP. Red Sox manager John Farrell even told the press that they need to get Buchholz back on track and believes that a lack of confidence is the real problem in this situation.
Despite Farrell noting that Buchholz is an important part of the starting rotation, I predict that the Red Sox are going to look to trade him by the end of July. They just need Buchholz to stay healthy – something he has struggled with over his career – and show a little improvement during June and July. With his club friendly contract and a few solid outings this coming June and July, Boston should be able to move him easily.
Best case scenario is that Buchholz repeats his 2012 season when he ended the first month of the season with a 8.69 ERA, but managed to sort out his pitching issues as the year progressed. By the time June and July rolled around, he was able to hold a 2.40 and 2.45 ERA respectively for those two months. Even last year, Buchholz showed improvement as the season went on despite landing on the disabled list in late July. He started with a 5.76 ERA in April 2015, but then maintained a 1.47 ERA in July. If this trend repeats itself this year, Buchholz will be more appealing to teams looking to add a starting pitcher to their roster at the trade deadline.
Additionally, the Red Sox do not need Buchholz. Boston has plenty of additional starting rotation depth and those other starters deserve a chance to demonstrate their talents should a current pitcher, such as Buchholz, be performing poorly. Lastly, both lefty Eduardo Rodriguez and righty Joe Kelly are suppose to return from the disabled list in mid-May, thus potentially bumping Buchholz from the rotation.
Then, there have also been some murmurs regarding starting pitcher Brian Johnson, who made his Major League debut with the Red Sox last year in July. Currently residing in Triple-A, this lefty has a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings pitched so far this season. Additionally, he has only allowed five runs and struck out 20. Should the Sox need another starter to fill a rotation spot, Johnson seems as though he is ready to pitch regularly in the big leagues.
So, it is clear that the Red Sox no longer need Buchholz and they might has well use him as a trade piece when the July deadline draws near in order to boost their team for a postseason run. Even though he has landed on the disabled list seven times over his nine year MLB career, his name did come up in trade rumors during this past offseason, which means there are potentially some teams out there who would want to add Buchholz to their roster. It makes the most sense to at least try and trade Buchholz this summer instead of just letting him enter free agency at the end of 2016 and receiving nothing in return.