Buchholz pitches well enough to win
A Red Sox team on the brink of elimination hands their fate over to Clay Buchholz to save their season.
A couple of months ago you would have assumed that manager John Farrell must have lost his mind if he was allowing Buchholz anywhere near the mound in a playoff game, let alone start an elimination game. The veteran right-hander had a brutal first half of the season, pitching poorly enough to lose his spot in the rotation – twice.
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A brief move to the bullpen allowed Buchholz to reinvent himself. He ditched his windup and started pitching exclusively out of the stretch, regardless of if runners were on base. The change has allowed him to stay more consistent with his mechanics and he believes this approach has made him quicker to home plate.
It’s hard to argue with the results. When Steven Wright was lost for the season with a shoulder injury the Red Sox were forced to give Buchholz another shot in the rotation. He rewarded the team for that decision by going 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in five September starts. Buchholz pitched brilliantly in his final three starts, going at least six innings and allowing two runs or less in each outing.
Will this success carry over to the postseason? The last time we saw Buchholz on this stage he was tossing four shutout innings in the 2013 World Series. Prior to that he started the deciding Game 6 of the ALCS, limiting the Detroit Tigers to a pair of runs over five innings. We’ve seen Buchholz step up in big moments before, so why not now?
I’m not expecting a gem from the enigmatic Buchholz. He’ll surely be on a tight leash, so don’t expect him to go deep into this game. However, he should perform just well enough to win, pitching into the sixth inning while allowing only a couple of runs. When he gets himself into a jam in the sixth, that’s when Farrell will come in with the hook, handing the game over to the bullpen to bail him out with the lead intact.