Wednesday night’s win over the San Francisco Giants serves to further the mystery of what role Buchholz plays on this Red Sox team.
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Once the starter was knocked out after only 3+ inning of work, one would naturally assume the long man in the bullpen would be used for multiple innings. Isn’t that supposed to be Buchholz’s job? It makes sense to avoid bringing him in for the middle of the fourth inning once Pomeranz exited, but beginning in the fifth, isn’t it his game?
Buchholz was up working in the bullpen during the later innings, but never actually made it into the game. Instead, manager John Farrell burned through three different relievers to get through the next two innings, then used Matt Barnes for a season-high three innings before handing it off to Ziegler to protect a four run lead in the ninth.
If Farrell refused to turn to Buchholz in a spot tailor made for how he was intended to be used as a reliever, it leaves us to wonder if he has a role on this team at all. If not, he’s merely wasting a roster spot.
If Buchholz does somehow manage to win back the trust of his manager, consider him a dark-horse candidate to serve as the temporary closer. One of his biggest issues has always been that he seems to lose focus on the mound in the middle of the game, but the pressure of a save situation could be what he needs to lock in on every pitch. We’ve seen other failed starters thrive in the ninth inning role, so why not Buchholz? They’ve essentially tried everything else with him, so perhaps it’s worth a shot.
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