Clay Buchholz

Sunday's Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Kendall Graveman

June 07, 2015 - 4:18 am

With a winning record through the first two series of June on the line, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to mound Sunday against Kendall Graveman and the last-place A's. This season has proven itself unkind to Clay Buchholz through two months and change, as he owns a 3-6 record and a 3.82 ERA. However, deeper analysis shows Buchholz to be pitching some of the best baseball of his nine-year career. The right-hander sports a 2.94 FIP, his lowest mark since his All-Star campaign of 2013 and the second-lowest mark of his career after his rookie season. With a low FIP, the Red Sox expect Buchholz's ERA to even out over the course of the season. Buchholz will try to build on his otherworldly June splits when he toes the bump against the A's. For his career, the 30-year-old is 13-1 with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP during the month of June. Buchholz continued his magnificence this month with eight shutout innings and three scattered hits in a win over the Twins last Tuesday. Buchholz was simply dominant, needing just 92 pitches to nab eight punchouts and his second-highest game score of the season (82). With his first win in four starts in hand, Buchholz wants to keep the momentum going for his team. "Every game is big from here on out," Buchholz said after the 1-0 victory. "Obviously we haven'€™t played up to the caliber of players we have on this team. The bar is set pretty high for this club. There's nobody in this clubhouse that doesn't expect that. I don'€™t think anybody would want it any other way. We'€™re going to try and get on a roll after today." Over his last four starts, Buchholz has earned the label of staff ace. During this span, he has hurled 30 2/3 innings with a 1.47 ERA and 27 K's, while opponents have slashed a paltry .171/.216/.267. Buchholz struck gold recently in large part due to his 13 percent swinging strike rate. He has found the location and the stuff he was missing early on in the season. Taking the mound for the Athletics will be Graveman, a 24-year-old rookie out of Mississippi State University. Graveman owns a 3-2 record and a 5.56 ERA on the campaign through seven starts. Though he was sent down to Triple-A Nashville after a miserable April, Graveman returned in late May and has posted two quality starts in three outings since his call-up. Graveman, a sinkerballer, has gone 2-0 in his last three starts with a 3.06 ERA. He has induced 12 ground balls per game over this stretch, a vast improvement from his April starts when he averaged just 6.75 per game. In his latest outing against the Tigers last Tuesday, the righty went six innings, allowing eight hits and three runs. Though he only struck out one, Graveman had the sinker working, inducing a season-high 13 ground balls. "I feel I'm getting close to be able to go deeper into games," Graveman said following his 5-3 win. "A couple of pitches here or there and a couple more quick outs and I keep my pitch count down. That s one thing I've really been trying to focus on. The fourth inning really hurt with getting the pitch count up. But I really did feel like confidence-wise, I kept the team in the game and offensively we're starting to make some strides." Graveman has never faced the Red Sox before, but in four road starts this season he has put up a 3-0 record and a 2.21 ERA. His ability to keep the ball on the ground certainly would benefit him at Fenway Park, where the short porches can be a pitcher's nightmare. Athletics vs. Buchholz (RHP) Ben Zobrist (46 plate appearances): .175 AVG/.283 OBP/.225 SLG, 6 strikeouts Brett Lawrie (27): .120/.154/.120, 3 strikeouts Billy Butler (19): .200/.316/.200 Josh Reddick (7): .333/.429/.833, 1 homerun, 3 RBIs Sam Fuld (5): .250/.400/.500, 1 double, 1 walk Marcus Semien (3): .333/.333/.333 Eric Sogard is 0-for-2 against Buchholz with a strikeout. No other Athletics have faced Buchholz. Red Sox vs. Graveman (RHP) No Red Sox have faced Graveman.