For the Boston Red Sox, the Buch Probably Stops Here

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz walks into the dugout after the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Fenway Park on May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Not “buck,” but “Buch” as in short for “Buchholz.”

The time has finally come, the team has been patient. Clay Buchholz is tied for the league-lead in starts with ten. He’s had bad starts, one or two decent ones and a bunch that could have been good, had it not been for one bad inning. The fact remains that after a quarter of a season Clay Buchholz is one of the worst starting pitchers in the American League.

Now if he’s your only option, then you’ve got to keep trotting him out there. Henry Owens and Sean O’Sullivan were both given looks, but neither was any better than Buchholz.

Things are starting to change though.

Joe Kelly is healthy and unless his Friday start is a complete 180-degree switch from his start against the Cleveland Indians last Saturday, Kelly has positioned himself to claim a permanent spot in the Red Sox starting rotation.

Eduardo Rodriguez has finally shown that he’s both healthy and effective. The Red Sox may very well have five healthy starting pitchers and not one of them is named “Clay Buchholz.”

Early Friday morning, Ian Browne of MLB.com reported that Buchholz bad start Thursday night may have been the last straw.

It should be.

Barring an injury to either Eduardo Rodriguez or any of the other four current members of the Red Sox starting rotation, there’s simply no reason for the Sox to keep Buchholz in the rotation.

They owe it to themselves to at least see what Rodriguez can do against major league hitters.

Buchholz is quickly becoming the type of “stopper” that teams dread having in their starting rotation. That would be the guy who brings winning streaks to a halt.

When the Red Sox were able to salvage the final game of a three-game series in Kansas City, they returned to Boston to face the Cleveland Indians.

The Red Sox were nice enough to hand Clay Buchholz a 2-0 lead, and Buchholz promptly gave up four runs to give the Indians a 4-2 lead they’d never relinquish.

After last Friday’s loss, the Red Sox rolled off four straight wins. Then Thursday Clay Buchholz took the mound and just like that, the Red Sox momentum was gone.

Unlike recent Buchholz outings where he tended to struggle in the early innings and then right himself. Thursday night the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead, only to watch Buchholz allow two runs in the fourth and then four in an ugly fifth inning that featured a pair of two run home runs by Trevor Story and Dustin Garneau.

His final line: 5 innings pitched, seven hits, six earned runs, zero walks, two strikeouts and three home runs. Buchholz has now allowed 12 home runs on the season, the second highest total in the American League.

The Red Sox simply have no reason to keep handing him the ball once every five games. He’s attained a level of consistency, but unfortunately he’s consistently bad.

At this point the Red Sox would be better off promoting Rodriguez, and then giving him a handful of starts to find some sort of groove at the major league level. Even if he’s not that good, odds are he’ll be better than Buchholz. Rodriguez is only 23 years old, so some struggles are to be expected, but unlike the 31 year old Buchholz, the Red Sox see plenty of future promise for Rodriguez.

There is some legitimate concern about Joe Kelly. Yes he was fantastic last Saturday. Yes he’s just off the disabled list, but Kelly has had his own issues with consistency.

Nonetheless as of Friday there’s no question that both Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez are deserving of opportunities in the Red Sox starting rotation, and Clay Buchholz is not.

Friday the Red Sox journey to Toronto to face the Blue Jays in the first game of a three-game set.

Toronto is a disappointing 24-25. They’re in third place in the AL East, and six games back of the Red Sox.

The Red Sox are 4-3 against the Blue Jays this season. Friday night Joe Kelly (2-0, 5.28) faces young Aaron Sanchez (4-1, 3.20.) First pitch from the Rogers Centre in Toronto is scheduled for 7:07 pm ET.

About the Author

Ben Shapiro
Red Sox columnist for ESPN New Hampshire. Originally from Western Massachusetts, I currently live in New York City with my wife and dog. I've previously written for Huffington Post, Bleacher Report and MassLive.com

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