A lot has changed since Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz threw his last pitch. At the time, the team had a 38-25 record and was only 1 1/2-game ahead in the American League East,
Tuesday night, Buchholz will make his long-awaited return to play against the Tampa Bay Rays after he was shut down with shoulder bursitis on June 8. His return could be a big boost team the Red Sox, who are 87-58, lead the AL East by 7 1/2-game lead in with just 17 regular-season games left. So while the team missed their ace, they certainly did OK without the man who was having an Cy Young Award type of season.
In the 12 starts before Buchholz got injured, he compiled a 9-0 record with a 1.71 ERA, which was the best in the American League at the time. While there was cause for concern among Red Sox faithful, the pitching rotation has held up pretty well.
When Buchholz got injured , the starters posted a record of 28-18 record in 63 starts, with a 3.61 ERA. Since his injury, the starters are 31-22 with a 4.18 ERA.
Buchholz pitched in three rehab starts in preparation for his start on Tuesday. In his last rehab appearance, he pitched 7 2⁄3 innings, allowing 12 hits, four earned runs, five walks and eight strikeouts.
Buchholz coming back could be what the Red Sox truly need now. With the Red Sox heading into the stretch run of the baseball season and with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury out at least a few weeks, Buchholz will provided a great boost to this team.
No one expects Buchholz to immediately start pitching like the he was prior to his injury, but he will make an already good pitching rotation better.
With the Red Sox inching close to a division title and their first trip back to the playoffs since 2009, Buchholz’s timing is impeccable. With pitcher Felix Doubront having a 6.60 ERA in his past six starts, the Red Sox can rest Doubront and have Buchholz get some work in and pitch Felix in spot duty. While it may take a few starts, maybe Buchholz can eventually be ace that he was the first half of the baseball season.