With so many questions surrounding his competitiveness and his ability to pitch during the long and grueling season, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz appears ready to prove his doubters wrong.
Those critics have a long list of complaints for the twenty-nine year old. Before going on the DL on May 28th with a hyperextended knee, Buchholz allowed 24 walks and 75 hits in 50 innings. To put that into perspective, Buchholz did not allow 75 hits until he had pitched 108.1 innings in 2013.
I have not even mentioned his outrageous ERA to this point. He currently is one of the worst pitchers in the league with a 7.02 ERA.
You can stop right there before examining more of Buchholz’s stats, because it is simply too painful to list all of the flaws with a pitcher who showed so much in 2013 and has shown very little in 2014.
However, now it appears he is ready to show that his pitiful start was a thing of the past. Buchholz believes any flaws in his mechanics have been fixed and that he will be ready to start at the big league level after only one rehab stint in Pawtucket.
“Things that I worked on, just try to go out there and execute them to the best of my ability,” Buchholz said of his goals for his stay in Triple-A. “That’s what this is used for, is to try to refine everything and get in a game situation. Triple-A and the big leagues isn’t that big of a difference as far as talent, just about everybody here has either gotten a taste of the big leagues or they’re on their way to getting there. It’s a good place to take a step in the right direction.”
After a rain out on Friday, Buchholz will pitch the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday. He has also thrown several extended bullpen sessions to this point (45-65 pitches) as well as a simulated game.
With almost no attention to his supposedly hyperextended knee, Buchholz knows that this DL stint has been more about healing his psyche and getting back to the basics.
“Confidence comes from results,” he said. “That’s first and foremost. This whole game you’re judged off of results, even when people say that results don’t matter sometimes. But it’s about winning games, and if you don’t win games it has to be pointed toward somebody. I wasn’t doing my job up there, putting the team in position to win games consistently. So that’s what this is about.”
Ideally, Buchholz’s one rehab start for Pawtucket will be all he needs to show the Sox he is ready for a return. For Buchholz, Saturday’s game could be likened to a World Series game. While the pressure is not the same, he is determined to prove to the Sox and himself that he can be better.
“Hopefully just one start,” said Buchholz on the timetable for returning to the big club. “I don’t have to build up arm strength. That’s usually what rehab assignments are for, is to go out and gradually build your arm strength. But I hadn’t stopped throwing. I’ve been throwing bullpens the whole time. I feel like the arm strength’s gotten even better just by playing long toss and the bullpens and everything. So if everything goes fine tomorrow and there’s no hiccups, I don’t see a reason why [I have to stay down] … unless they just wanted me to throw another game. Hopefully this will be my only one.”
As someone who has doubted Clay Buchholz from the beginning, I hope he proves me and all the other Sox doubters wrong.