The numbers don’t lie when it comes to Clay Buchholz. The Boston Red Sox right-hander turned in another stinker Monday afternoon and is entrenched in one of the worst stretches of his young career.
Buchholz struggled mightily with his control against the Atlanta Braves and found another new low, lasting just three-plus innings and walking eight as he allowed six earned runs. Buchholz has logged just 18 innings in his last four starts, going 0-2 with a 9.50 ERA. He has allowed 19 earned runs and 33 hits in those 18 innings.
Buchholz’s struggles are evident in more ways than the bottom line, too, as the right-hander looked uncomfortable against the Braves. He was falling off to his glove side for much of the start, leading to an inconsistent release point that made finding the strike zone nearly impossible. It finally caught up with him in the fourth inning when the Braves started tagging the few pitches Buchholz left in the zone before chasing him from the game.
Afterward, Buchholz again had no answers for another lackluster showing.
“When you’re out there thinking about getting big league hitters out and thinking about three different types of mechanics you were doing in the bullpens, it makes it that much harder,” Buchholz told reporters, according to the Providence Journal. “I felt really good in the bullpen, commanding everything. It’s tough to do in-game; it has to be second-nature at that point. I have to get to the point where I’m not thinking about anything — just throwing the baseball like I have been my whole life.”
The issue, according to Buchholz, actually stems from last season’s injuries. The pitcher believes the compensations he made for injuries during 2013 have negatively affected his mechanics. He’s still working to get that squared away.
“Whenever you are hurt, you try to find a way to throw so it doesn’t hurt,” Buchholz said. “And that might not be the exact same way you pitched prior to that. There’s a little rust in between last year’s and this year’s mechanics.”
Buchholz insists he’s healthy now, but that hasn’t stopped others from questioning his health. Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves is one of those people.
“I wonder how healthy he is,” Nieves pondered when speaking with the Providence Journal.
If nothing else, the pitcher’s ego is bruised, and his confidence seems shot. Buchholz, who also blamed part of his Monday issues on the Georgia heat, looks and sounds like someone who could use some time off to fix himself both mentally and physically. Skipping Buchholz in the rotation is an option it sounds like the Red Sox are considering.
“We’ve got to look at this a little bit closer and there’s no determination on five days from now,” Boston manager John Farrell said, according to the team’s website. “We’ve got to continue to talk about what he’s currently going through and what’s best for him and certainly what’s best for us.”
What’s best for both Buchholz and the Red Sox might be at least one skipped start. Neither side can afford to continue like this.