I made a post last month about Clay Buchholz struggles in April and while we’re only two weeks into May it looks like Buchholz is still struggling to get going. He’s made three starts this month and only one would be considered a good start. He has managed to average 6.0 innings pitched during that time, but much of that has been thanks to great offense keeping him in it. At what point does early season rust transition into a problem worthy of attention.
During the month of April his xFIP stood at a horrendous 5.31 and Buchholz was having major control issues. He was walking more than four batters every nine innings. He had a K/BB of 1.46 and things looked really bad. Buchholz has historically outperformed his xFIP, but so far luck was not on his side and his ERA was a staggering 6.51. That’s a big jump from a career ERA of 3.51 in April.
So now May has come and Buchholz has improved some, but not nearly enough. His xFIP stands at 4.89 in those three games and while his K/BB has improved it still is a below average 1.86. He also has the worst GB rate against in his career so far this year and that has not improved in May. It stands at 37.8 percent this season compared to a career rate of 48 percent.
The good news for Boston is the pitching has improved with every game almost universally except for Buchholz. In the same time the offense has become one of the best in the league and made the wins pretty easy the past 7 games. Eventually the offense will struggle again and the Red Sox must count on better from their starters. That time will be very important for their playoff chances to have Buchholz pitching healthy and better than this.
I’m not sure Boston can do much with Buchholz if he doesn’t get better. No one is going to take him on if his ERA continues to hold above 5.00 and we only have to go back as far as 2014 to see him do this poorly for a large sample. In the end it seems like Boston is going to have to play it out with Clay and hope for the best, but more than likely the I’m anticipating they go with the $0.5M buyout on Buchholz after the season and Buchholz try to regain something somewhere else.