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(David Butler II, USA Today Sports)
Bill Foley (@Foles74)
Contributing Writer


As I’ve written before, Clay Buchholz is the ultimate tease. And there’s a good chance that he’s teasing us again with his recent pitching brilliance.

Watching his entire career has been like buying the pretty girl drinks all night then feeling like an fool as she leaves the bar another man. Buchholz has looked like an ace some days, only to look like a bum for long stretches.

On Wednesday, Buchholz was absolutely brilliant against a Baltimore lineup that has been on a tear, winning 12 of its previous 15 games. He struck out seven batters and held the O’s to one run in seven innings as the Red Sox beat Baltimore 5-1.

That outing wasn’t a fluke. His 5-6 record doesn’t show it, but Buchholz has been quietly putting together one heck of a stretch for the underachieving Red Sox. He has dropped his ERA from 6.03 on May 4 to 3.68 after Wednesday’s gem.

Throw out Buchholz’s April 12 stinker in Yankee Stadium — when he gave up 10 runs (9 earned) in 3 and a third innings — and Buchholz has an ERA of 2.93.

As Gordon Edes points out, Buchholz sure looks like a keeper. He looks an awful lot like the pre-injury Buchholz of 2013. He’s looking increasingly like, dare I say it, an ace.

Scouts have been watching Buchholz, and the calls have been mounting for the Red Sox to trade him while his stock is high.

The 2015 Red Sox have been a major disappointment, and the temptation is to blow the team up and build for the future. Buchholz, no doubt, would bring a nice return for the Red Sox, most likely in the form of prospects.

You can never have enough prospects. But what they need is a proven top-of-the-rotation starter, and Buchholz is truly looking like one of those again.

If Buchholz, who will be 31 in August, was in the last year of his contract like Jon Lester was last year when he was dealt to the A’s, a trade might make sense. Buchholz, though, is signed through 2017 to a very team-friendly deal. He is due to make $13 million next year and $13.5 million in 2017. He’s making $12 million this season.

While that might make him even more valuable to contending teams, it certainly makes him more valuable to the Red Sox, too.

It’s tough enough to watch John Lackey, who is making $500,000 this season because of an injury clause Theo Epstein put in his contract, pitch so well for the Cardinals.

That pain wouldn’t come close to how bad it would be to watch Buchholz win the Cy Young Award for the Royals or Pirates in 2016. Clay at his best is definitely Cy Young material. If he could put it all together for a full season — granted, a very big if — he could certainly add that trophy to his mantel.

We’ve invested too much in Buchholz, who was drafted with the compensation pick the Red Sox got for Pedro Martinez signing with the Mets after the 2004 season, to see him finally be all that he can be in another uniform.

The pretty girl is smiling at us again. It would be foolish sneak out the back door before last call when there’s still a chance she will walk out the front door with us.

Bill Foley 6/25/2015 12:00:00 PM Edit
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