|Buchholz Looks Like a New Pitcher||| Print ||
Written by Joshua Kay (Contact & Archive) on June 21, 2012
It is no secret that the Red Sox have dealt with a ridiculous amount of injuries to their offense -- Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford to name a few. Couple that with the questionable trades of the Ben Cherington era that sent Jed Lowrie to Houston, Marco Scutaro to Colorado for a bag of balls and some chips and Josh Reddick to Oakland, and the Red Sox new front office has started poorly.
Revisiting the pitching problem, the Sox have overrated the projected effectiveness of Lackey and Matsuzaka, but the media and Red Sox fans have always overrated one of their own: Clay Buchholz.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
Buchholz has been consistently bad the last three years, carrying expected ERAs in the low 4.00 range over that span. This has been due to having a pedestrian skillset at best: K/9 of 6.5 over the last three years and a BB/9 of 3.4. That leaves Buchholz with a pretty lackluster 2.0 K/BB ratio for a guy that showed 10.0 K/9 in 2007.
The decline of K/9 is largely due to the style of ex-pitching coach John Farrell. Farrell has long been a guy who likes to get his pitchers to turn some of their strikeouts into groundballs, and Buchholz has been one of the prime examples. We also see it this year in Toronto (where Farrell is now manager) with Brandon Morrow.
The good news for the Red Sox is now that Farrell has departed, it has left the door open for Buchholz and he has jumped through it. Buchholz has been incredible over his past few starts, and all of that can be attributed to the incredible effectiveness of his new split-finger changeup.
Since May 27th, he is 3-0 and has gone seven innings in each of those outings, while allowing two runs or less in each of those starts. His strikeouts are back, to the tune of 8.3 K/9, and he has lowered his walk rate to 1.9 BB/9 over his last four starts. Those stats and some other metrics add up to a 3.09 expected ERA over that stretch. If he can keep those skills gains, the Red Sox will get some much needed pitching help, and will now have the third strong starter they need to keep themselves in this division race. The AL East is a four-team race again.
* - Red Sox fans: If you can get anything from Matsuzaka this year, count your blessings. For any fantasy baseball players out there, I was asked on Twitter “Should I add Daisuke Matsuzaka in a 12 tm league.” My response was “He only has value in leagues that count languages spoken as a category.”