Like many Red Sox fans, my opinion of Clay Buchholz has fluctuated wildly over the years. On July 24, 2014, I wrote a blog called “Say Goodbye to Bucky”. It listed his many accomplishments- a no hitter in his second major league start, two all-star selections, his 63-39 overall record with a 3.81 ERA, and his most successful season in 2010- a slash of 17-7/2.33/1.203. I called his 2014 season (8-11/5.24/1.368 “very disappointing”. I also wrote about his many injuries (5 times on the disabled list). After an improved record in 2015, he suffered another injury-this time an elbow sprain. In another blog, submitted on November 27 of that year, I wrote that I was not sure the Sox should have picked up his $13 million option.
Now the Sox face the question of picking up another Buchholz option for 2017. Pierce Dennis of Bosox Injection feels that the team should let go of him. He cites his struggles in 2016 (8-10/4.78/1.329 while shuffling between the starting rotation and the bullpen.
However, Dennis admits that late in the year the hurler submitted three quality starts. His performance earned him a start in the third game of the ALDS, in which he pitched well before being removed after 4 innings. Buchholz was replaced by Drew Pomeranz, who gave up a two-run homer to seal the win and a series sweep for Cleveland.
It is easy to dismiss “Bucks” as an aging underachiever, though he is only 32. But he has some things going for him. Over his 10-year career, he has experienced being a starting pitcher in spots 1 through 5, demotions to the bullpen, and all manner of injury. He has managed to survive despite a lot of booing from the fans. He possesses a quiet-but tough demeanor.
2016 also saw him put together his first injury-free season since 2010. Dennis suggests that a possible starting rotation of Rick Porcello, David Price, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and Pomeranz would leave Buchholz out. He also mentions Henry Owens. But Pomeranz’ injury status leaves him a question mark, Rodriguez and Price have been inconsistent, and Owens has been a huge disappointment..
If I were Dave Dombrowski, I would certainly think twice about letting Buchholz leave.