Clay Buchholz has an ERA of 2.28 over his last eight starts. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz showing flashes of 2013, emerging as Red Sox' staff ace

Ryan Hannable
June 24, 2015 - 7:26 pm
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In a season lacking positives, there's one player who has quietly gone under the radar as one of the biggest positives on the Red Sox roster of late and maybe a player least expected to be one. That player is Clay Buchholz. After his sixth start of the season Buchholz had an ERA of 6.03 and was getting mocked left-and-right for being the Red Sox' so-called ace. But, since then Buchholz has actually been just that -- the ace of the Red Sox' rotation. Following his seven inning, one-run performance in the Red Sox' 5-1 win over the Orioles Wednesday, Buchholz's ERA is now 3.68, a full 2.35 lower than it was at the beginning of May. Since May 14, over his last eight starts, he has an ERA of 2.28 and is unbeaten in his last five starts with the Red Sox winning four of those games. The way he's pitched of late has drawn some comparisons to how he was at the start of the 2013 season when he went 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA before missing three months with a shoulder injury. "I think he's been as strong start to start in terms of run strength and overall stuff this year equal to 2013 prior to the shoulder ailment that he went through," manager John Farrell said. "But the percentage of strikes is extremely high every night he walks to the mound. He has such an uncanny ability to manipulate the baseball and change speeds as he did tonight, but he's in a pretty solid run for us here over a high number of starts." Against the Orioles Wednesday, the right-hander had control of all of his pitches. According to Brooksbaseball.net, he threw 31 fastballs, 24 changeups, 12 curveballs and 32 cutters. On those pitches he got 13 swing and misses. "Started off off-speed mix," Buchholz said. "I was able to throw some changeups in some big spots. I was able to use the cutter on both sides of the plate. They hit some balls pretty hard right at some guys and the defense made the plays on them. That always helps too. Me and Sandy [Leon] for the most part of each start that we've been going out there pretty much are on the same page and the game seems to flow a little bit better. Made some big pitches in some big spots." The only run the Orioles got off Buchholz was in the sixth inning when Chris Parmelee led the inning off with a double and came around to score on a bloop single from Chris Davis to center field -- a ball that fell right in front of Mookie Betts. "That's a tough team across the field," Buchholz said. "They can ambush when they swing early, they can work you and try and make you throw strikes. From the first pitch of the game it seemed like they were wanting to hit the ball early in the count and when teams are doing that you try and make your pitch and if they put a swing on it hopefully they hit it at someone. Aside from the eight hits, I didn't give any big hits in big situations and made a big pitch on [Chris] Davis. He's a strong man, found a way to get it in the outfield. Other than that I felt pretty good." As a starting rotation the Red Sox have a team-ERA of 4.78, but take out Buchholz, the starters have a combined ERA of 5.09. Following his 15th start of the season, Buchholz has a staff-leading 10 quality starts and in the process is silencing all his critics who mocked him just a few short months ago.

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