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What is Wrong with Clay Buchholz?

Clay Buchholz, Bobby Valentine (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz improved to 3-1 with a win over the A’s Monday night. So nothing’s wrong, right?

Well, no.

In getting his team-leading third win, Buchholz LOWERED his ERA to 8.69, which if he weren’t pitching for this year’s Red Sox, would probably be the worst earned run average on the team.

By comparison, the guy everyone wants to pull from the rotation (Daniel Bard) leads all starters with a 3.72 ERA, or roughly five runs lower than Buchholz. Yikes.

The 27-year-old has allowed seven home runs and 28 earned runs in just 29 innings, and Monday’s game wasn’t much of an improvement stats-wise: 6.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 5 BB, 5 Ks against one of the worst offensive clubs in the majors. Still, Buchholz saw some progress.

“I felt like it was my most positive outing aside from the line,” Buchholz said after the game.

It was, kind of. Buchholz allowed just one run through the first six innings on just 72 pitches. He was cruising until that disastrous seventh inning: two singles, two walks, and a three-run HR given up to Josh Reddick.

With that inning, Buchholz has now allowed at least five earned runs in all five starts this season, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to do that at any point in a season since 1940 (stat from ESPNBoston.com).

We’re going to assume (which may be dumb) that Buchholz is not injured. So what’s failing him this year?

If you haven’t noticed, the righty’s best pitch, his changeup, has been rather flat and easy to crush this season. He used the changeup during much of his successful 2010 campaign, when he was second in the American League with a 2.33 ERA. He finally saw improvement with that pitch against the A’s Monday, which is hopefully going to be a sign of a turnaround:

“I looked at a lot of video from 2010 because that’s when the changeup was at its best,” Buchholz said after the game. “Saw a lot of things in that video. Today was the best changeup I’ve thrown all year. I wasn’t second-guessing anything.”

Now, it’s time for Buchholz to “change up” his season. He gets his next crack at it this weekend against the Orioles.

About KC Downey - @kc_downey

KC is the "head coach" of the Sports of Boston, LLC blog network. Follow him on Twitter: @kc_downey

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