BOSTON — Clay Buchholz is expected to pitch in St. Louis.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday that Buchholz is scheduled to start either Game 3 or Game 4 of the World Series against the Cardinals despite reports that the right-hander is dealing with physical issues. Jake Peavy is expected to start whichever game Buchholz doesn’t.
Things got interesting toward the end of the Red Sox’ workout on Tuesday, as both Felix Doubront and Matt Thornton, who hasn’t been on the Red Sox’ postseason roster for any round, threw to hitters at Fenway Park. The scene raised speculation that something was physically wrong with Buchholz, who missed three months of the regular season with a shoulder ailment.
“Not to the point of keeping him out of starting,” Farrell said Wednesday when asked if Buchholz is dealing with a physical issue.
Farrell said that Doubront pitching at Tuesday’s workout was scheduled, but the skipper’s words suggest that there might be something wrong with Buchholz, even if it’s not enough to sideline the righty. Buchholz’s velocity has dropped toward the end of his three postseason starts, and his overall effectiveness has suffered as a result.
“We do notice that there’s a visible difference in his stuff [at some point in his starts] and that’s our guide,” Farrell said. “I think right now, we’re a little more in tune that when it starts, we have to react a little quicker.”
Buchholz has held opponents to a .205 average over the first four innings in his three playoff starts. Opponents have hit .435 in the fifth and sixth innings, though, suggesting that he has hit some sort of wall. Between that concern and Peavy’s struggles in Detroit, it’s possible that Doubront could find himself thrust into action at some point during the World Series.
“What that shows is just the intensity,” Farrell said of Buchholz’s struggles in the fifth and sixth innings. “Whether there’s also a mental fatigue part that’s coming into that because there’s so much energy spent on controlling that side of it. … We’re working through those things and trying to make that a little bit more at ease.”
Farrell also said that whether Buchholz starts Game 3 or Game 4 will come down to how the Cardinals respond to facing John Lackey in Game 2, and that potential Game 7 availability is also a consideration.
“[His ability to pitch Game 7 is] being factored in, yeah,” Farrell said of Buchholz. “We have to stay conscious of that, given the last two starts, when he he’s hit the wall, it’s happened pretty quick. And all that is being factored in.”
Jon Lester will face Adam Wainwright in Wednesday’s Game 1 in Boston, while Lackey will face rookie phenom Michael Wacha in Game 2 at Fenway.