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Sports of Boston is continuing its week-long preview of the Red Sox starting rotation with its projected #2 starter:
Clay Buchholz (17-7, 2.33 ERA, 173.2 IP, 120 K, 67 BB): Every year, Buchholz has faced a new developmental challenge. In 2007, it was to find a way to meaningfully contribute to a championship-caliber team late in the season. He succeeded, and moved on to his next challenge: become a pitcher capable of contributing over an entire season. Due to injury, inexperience and pressure, he did not meet that challenge in 2008, then finished 2009 with a record that, while not bad, did not make anyone see success in his future.
But in 2010, Buchholz put it all together, posting the best ERA of any Red Sox starter and a dominant record to match. He finished the season sixth in Cy Young voting. Having done it once, now he needs to show that he can do it again and again. A repeat performance from last season will cement in fans’ minds that he is for real, that last season was not a flash in the pan.
Buchholz’s career is still building, so he will likely face several more challenges before he is crowned as a truly elite pitcher. Last year he proved he at least has the potential for major-league pitching glory. Now he must turn his potential into reality.
The Red Sox rotation went 65-39 last season, which means a little over a third of their games were decided by their inconsistent-at-best bullpen. This resulted in an 89-73 record, their fewest wins since 2006. Experience should generate a few more wins for the starters, and the bullpen has been much improved. This should all translate to another season in which the Red Sox win over 95 games.
It all starts in 13 days.