By Ryan Hannable
BOSTON — What is wrong with Clay Buchholz?
That is on the minds of many as the Red Sox right-hander, who went 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA the first two and a half months of last season before missing two months with a shoulder injury, has opened the 2014 season 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA. The latest allowing six runs on seven hits in just 2 1/3 innings, taking the loss against the Orioles on Marathon Monday.
Some have suggested there is still something physically wrong with Buchholz, but both he and manager John Farrell say there is nothing physically wrong with the 29-year-old. The issue Buchholz points to is his arm strength.
“It all starts with arm strength,” Buchholz said. “Arm strength creates movement on pitches that I throw and I couple of them are flat right now. My sinker is getting some sink, but not on every pitch that I throw. Everything was working pretty well for me last year at the beginning of the season. It comes from arm strength and being confident. It’s hard go out there and be confident when you’re out there getting hit around.”
According to BrooksBaseball.net, he does have a case, as in the past Buchholz has sat between 92-93 MPH on his fastball and this year through four starts he’s averaging around 91 MPH. Again Monday Buchholz was right at 91 MPH on his fastball, which may have played a role in not limiting the damage in the six run third inning.
“Where he needed a strikeout in that third inning to record an out and possibly shut down that stretch, that was elusive today,” Farrell said. “They notoriously swing early in the count and when he mislocated on a couple of pitches the took advantage and got some hits.”
Added Buchholz: “I was trying to overthrow a little bit and that’s when pitches get left over the zone and that’s what players are paid to hit.”
Buchholz acknowledged his arm strength isn’t where he wants it to be, as he would like to consistently be at the 92-93 MPH range.
“It’s not quite there,” he said. “It feels like it’s getting better. Later in the past two games if I wanted to reach back to 92-93 is there, but that usually comes pretty easy. I’m struggling with that right now, but it will come together. It’s still pretty early, we have a lot of time left in this first half to pull it together.”
It’s hard to remain positive in a results driven game and city, but deep down Buchholz knows it’s early in the season and he has plenty of time to turn things around.
“This game always comes down to results, so it’s hard to tell anybody that I felt good about today because I really didn’t,” he said. “Being in this game for a little bit you have to tale the good away from the bad and that’s the only way that you can stay encouraged and move forward and not dwell on the things that happened.”
What do you think of Clay Buchholz’s start to the season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.