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Perhaps Buchholz felt he owed a pound of flesh in penance for every integer in his 2014 ERA (7.02).
Okay, so manager John Farrell said it was his hyperextended left knee that landed him on the DL and not the extreme weight loss. Frankly, I don’t care what the reason is — blister, hangnail, hair loss, weight loss, phantom knee injuries, emotionally fragile, you name it. Anything to keep Buchholz and his 7.02 ERA from taking their next couple of turns in the rotation.
It goes beyond his astronomical ERA, though. And his sky-high WHIP (1.98). And his beefy batting average against (.339). And the 4.32 BB/9.
Really the biggest reason the Red Sox needed to put him on the DL was his inability to pitch deep into games. In his 10 starts this season, Buchholz has lasted only 50 innings. Luckily the math comes out to a nice, easy, round average of five innings per start. In half of those starts, he hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning, including starts of 2.1 and 3 innings. It’s one thing to not pitch well; it’s entirely another to also sabotage the entire bullpen and put extra pressure on the next day’s starter to go seven or eight innings.
Of course, who knows whether his replacement will be any better. The Red Sox called up Alex Wilson to take Buchholz’s spot on the roster and reinforce the bullpen, but who would start in his place? Felix Doubront is also on the DL, which means Brandon Workman is already in the rotation. Former starter Chris Capuano is thriving in his role out of the bullpen and likely not ready for the demanding workload of a starter.
That leaves AAA call-ups such as Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, and Anthony Raunado, all of whom are already on the 40-man roster. Webster was shelled in stints as a major league starter in 2013, compiling an 8.60 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 30.1 innings over eight games pitched (seven starts). He has been better at AAA (one would hope!) with a 3.17 ERA, but who knows if that will translate to the majors or if he’ll revert to the overmatched pitcher from a year ago. De La Rosa has been inconsistent at best, with both his command and his results. He does have electric stuff, however, good for a 3.04 ERA and 1.219 WHIP in 10 AAA starts. Ranaudo has also been solid in Pawtucket this year, sporting a 2.90 ERA and a complete game shutout, but the 6’7″ righty has never pitched at the major league level.
Most concerning of all, the three potential call-ups have barely averaged just over five innings per start for the PawSox. Even if any of the three are able to keep the Red Sox in the game by at least limiting the opposing offense (it’d be presumptuous to look for a dominant outing), five inning stints are still not exactly the break the bullpen needs.
Then again, it’s hard for them to be any worse than Buchholz.
Hopefully this DL stint helps Buchholz hit the reset button on 2014 and returns him closer to his pre-injury 2013 form, when he was a leading Cy Young candidate at 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA through June. The Red Sox could certainly use that Buchholz if they have any hope of vaulting back into the thick of the AL East race.
If not, well…the Red Sox might be better off signing 50 Cent.