A couple of weeks ago, the Red Sox parted ways with pitching coach Juan Nieves and brought in new pitching coach Carl Willis. The difference? 13-17 with an ERA of 5.03 under Nieves and 2nd-to-last in starter ERA and bullpen ERA. Now, with Willis, the pitching staff is 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA. Perhaps most noticeable has been Clay Buchholz, who has 14 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA in his last 2 starts, including an 11-strikeout performance against Seattle on Friday, which he was unlucky to lose. Willis is quick to give credit to the pitchers, saying they simply started executing according to the Boston Herald:
“Well let’s give credit where credit is due,” said Willis, who was hired to replaced fired pitching coach Juan Nieves. “The first one, I showed up that day, so I watched [Clay Buchholz] warm up and sat in the dugout, so I had zero to do with that I can assure you.”
“Just in the bullpen session, just in conversations with him, as well as with all these guys, I’m a big believer in the mental side of pitching,” Willis said. “I asked if they have a 100 percent conviction, focus, and intent, execution, whatever word it is that resonates with them, with each and every pitch.”
On Buchholz's last start:
“It was electric,” Willis said. “He had all his pitches working. He used all his pitches. I was very impressed, honestly, with the entire outing. The one thing that stood out to me and it wasn’t even a play, but when he started the delivery and shut it down in the middle, very good self awareness. We didn’t talk about it today. I don’t know what he felt and how he was out of sync or if he just felt in the whole beginning of the pitch, maybe he wasn’t committed to the pitch, but I thought that’s part of what we’re looking for.”
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the pitching staff, especially Buchholz. We all know what Clay is capable of when he's on his game, but he's had his issues. But it looks like WIllis is the guy to help Clay and the rest of the staff finally get on track. Now, we just need the offense to start clicking as well, and we'll be all set..