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Is Clay Buchholz Pitching His Way Back Into The Red Sox Rotation?

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What a fucked up season, huh? The Red Sox have gone from, “Holy shit, this rotation sucks. Let’s trade all of our top prospects for Chris Sale,” to “Holy shit, we have WAY too many really good starting pitchers. Who are we going to put in the bullpen?”

In the month of August, Red Sox starters have an ERA of 2.69, which trails only the Kansas City Royals (2.65) for the best in the American League. I mean, the Red Sox would still be in first for the month if it weren’t for Henry Owens’ jabroni ass ruining a good thing that we had going here. If you take out Owens’ 8 earned run start from this past Sunday, Red Sox starters would have a 2.26 ERA this month. You know what? I’m not even gonna count Owens. Fuck Owens. Red Sox starters have a 2.26 ERA this month, which is the best ERA in the American League. Asshole.

Clay Buchholz — yes, CLAY BUCHHOLZ, kept the good times rolling last night in St. Pete when he threw 6.1 innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out nine. It was the first time that he picked up a win as a starter since May 9, and that start wasn’t even that good (4 ER in 5 IP). Over Buchholz’s last 8 appearances, the right-hander has a 1.96 ERA, and opponents are hitting .195 with a .475 OPS against him. He’s back to being Claydro.

Are you surprised, though? I know the running joke is that Buchholz sucks and that he’s a disaster, but even somebody like me, who gets on Buchholz harder than anybody when he’s going bad, his success is the least surprising thing ever to me. This is what he does. He’s so streaky, but when he gets hot, he gets HOT. His hot streaks aren’t just “pretty good” runs, either. And this is exactly why he’s been so frustrating to watch over the years, because Red Sox fans know that he’s capable of runs like these, but they’re never wire to wire, you never know when they’re going to start, and you never know when or how they’re going to end. Could be reverting back to sucking, or it could be a season-ending injury. Who knows.

But, with Buchholz’s recent success in Boston’s rotation, this has started the discussion of, does he deserve to stay there? That’s a loaded question, because there are a lot of different factors and scenarios that could play out. We can throw out the six-man rotation. I don’t think they’ll do that. They want to get David Price and Rick Porcello as many starts as possible, and they’re not going to compromise that for Buchholz. He hasn’t earned that much this year. If Buchholz is going to stay in the rotation, then whose spot is he taking and why? Eduardo Rodriguez has a 2.52 ERA over his last 7 starts since he returned from Pawtucket — not gonna be him. Steven Wright has been one of the Red Sox’s best starters this year, and an All Star — won’t be him, either.

Drew Pomeranz would be an interesting choice, and it would have nothing to do with performance. Pomeranz has a 2.25 ERA this month, and it looks like he’s finally starting to settle in after a rocky start to his Boston tenure. Here’s how you could justify Pomeranz to the bullpen, and Buchholz back in the rotation — Pomeranz is on pace to pitch 180.1 innings this year. His previous career high had been 96.2 innings in 2012. If the Red Sox wanted to protect Pomeranz, which I don’t think is a major concern, they could do so by putting him in the bullpen. I’m against that. He’s 27, not 22. Wright is another guy who is in uncharted waters when it comes to inning total, so I’m not sure why they’d protect one over the other.

I think where Buchholz could benefit and continue to get opportunities in the rotation is through the health of guys like Rodriguez and Wright. Wright hasn’t made a start since August 5 because of a shoulder injury, and Rodriguez has missed his last two starts with a hamstring injury. Wright is scheduled to start on Friday against Ian Kennedy and the Royals, but Rodriguez threw a sim game yesterday, and his return is still to be determined. As we’re coming to realize, Rodriguez seems to be a little bit fragile, both physically and maybe it’s even fair to say mentally now. Once he gets hurt, he’s not exactly a guy who’s going to return as fast as possible. Buchholz could gain from that.

Also, don’t run on Mookie Betts:

Final score: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

(thanks to 13thStreetSport for the pic)