The Red Sox are in a place that they don’t necessarily want to be in, but a position that they aren’t new to. With Clay Buchholz leading the charge in game three, the Red Sox will need the veteran to step up in a big way.
If you asked any member of Red Sox Nation if they thought Clay Buchholz would be pitching for the Red Sox in an elimination game, you would have been laughed at. Not just laughed at, but literally pointed at, given a dunce cap, and become a social media laughing stock.
Just a few months ago, it looked like the long-time Red Sock was a goner. If he didn’t find himself a free agent, he would have been involved in a dump trade. The Nation despised him and he choked in just about every start.
He began the season with a 6.35 ERA, giving up 12 home runs, 24 walks, and had an opponent batting average of .268 before he was demoted. He struggled through June, lowering his era to a weak 5.90.
I could continue to give you numbers, but instead just trust me when I say he was bad. There was a social media movement to release him and a fan revolt against him pitching in the rotation. So for him to be pitching now is quite a surprise.
Buchholz has pitched in a game 3 in the ALDS with the Red Sox trailing. He took the ball in the 2009 ALDS with the Red Sox trailing 0-2 to the Angels. Boston lost the game, but he pitched well allowing just two runs in five innings.
The Red Sox are no strangers to finding themselves down to the Indians in a playoff series. They trailed 3-1 in the 2007 ALCS, before storming back and winning the series. This season is much different, as is the series, but it shows it can be done.
Buchholz may not be the most trusted guy to enlist, but he’s been better in the past month. Since September 6th, he has a 3.14 ERA in 28.2 innings and five starts. He went at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in four of those five starts.
Had Buchholz struggled mightily the last month of the season, there still aren’t many replacement options for him at this point. Steven Wright wasn’t able to bounce back and recover from a shoulder injury. Drew Pomeranz has been dealing with an injury since his trade and is limited to the bullpen, and Joe Kelley seems like an unrealistic option.
Buchholz will have the Red Sox on his shoulders when he takes the mound on Monday. However, it isn’t all on him. The Red Sox have to start showcasing that best offense in MLB. It hasn’t been very effective in the first two games of the series, and it seems like their young stars are pressing.
The Red Sox want to win for David Ortiz, and Hanley Ramirez has been especially vocal about that. While the full team will need to show up on Monday, most of the weight lies on “Claydro” the pitcher.