The Boston Red Sox have a pitching problem. This much was evident since the original spring training, but the worst fears have been confirmed over the first series of the season. With Eduardo Rodriguez sidelined, the only starting-caliber pitcher on the roster is Nathan Eovaldi. Martin Perez and Ryan Weber simply aren’t going to cut it, and the Red Sox could turn to an old friend in Clay Buchholz.
Before we get too deep, let me preface by saying that signing Clay Buchholz probably won’t fix the pitching dilemma. The former Red Sox starter is well past his best years and, even at his best, was wildly inconsistent. However, there is a chance, however small, that they catch lightning in a bottle with Buchholz, and that small probability justifies a signing.
Why the Boston Red Sox Should Go After Clay Buchholz
The Circle of Clay
Anyone that remembers Buchholz’s first stint with the team is very familiar with the Circle of Clay. For those uninitiated, Buchholz has a stretch of near-elite play (Good Clay), followed by an equal stretch of bad play (Bad Clay) before finally ending up on the Injured List. Each period can last for a couple of starts to two or three months, but the turn is always right around the corner.
This endless cycle is infuriating over the course of a 162-game season but could work out during an abbreviated campaign. Thanks to the shortened season, the Red Sox would only need him for a few months of starting duty. If the stars align, the Red Sox could get a pretty solid starter for the final stretch of the season. With expanded playoffs, the Red Sox could probably make it into the postseason with a starting trio of Eovaldi, Rodriguez, and Good Buchholz.
Of course, one has to wonder if Good Clay is still around. Buchholz is currently 35 years old, and nobody can pitch forever. The last we saw of Buchholz, the righty made just 12 starts, owning a 6.56 ERA and a 5.62 FIP over 59.0 innings of work.
This is obviously bad, but Good Clay was on the field as recently as 2018. During his 16-game stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the righty pitched 98.1 innings to the tune of a 2.01 ERA and a 3.47 FIP. 2018 wasn’t that long ago, so it stands to reason that Buchholz still has the raw potential to put together some solid starts.
Why Clay Buchholz?
Admittedly, there aren’t too many enticing free agents left on the market. However, Clay Buchholz still manages to stand out above the rest. Right now, the best starting pitchers remaining on the market are probably Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, Marco Estrada, and Buchholz himself.
Quite frankly, none of the other three aforementioned starters offer the same upside as Buccholz. Cashner, Vargas, and Estrada can all be serviceable starters at the very back of the rotation, but none of them offer the potential to be a solid third starter.
Buchholz does offer that upside, even if there is only a small percentage chance that he hits that ceiling. A fifth starter isn’t enough to save this rotation, so the Red Sox have no choice but to shoot for the guy with a decently high ceiling. If it works, then the Red Sox might make some noise heading into the postseason. If it doesn’t, then they’re in the exact same situation that they’d be in if they’d done nothing at all.
Honestly, anything’s better than starting Josh Osich.
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