Let's not give up on Clay Buchholz just yet

Bill Foley (@Foles74)
Contributing Writer

That headline is going to drive many Red Sox fans crazy because they are tired of the ultimate tease that is Clay Buchholz.

When he was just a kid, Buchholz busted onto the Fenway scene with a late-season no-hitter against the Orioles in 2007. Immediately, Red Sox fans had visions of an already solid pitching staff, led by Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, being untouchable as Boston swept its way to a World Series title.
(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Soon after that memorable gem, however, the 22-year-old Buchholz let us down for the first time when he was shut down for the season for whatever reason Theo Epstein dreamed up. He pitched in just four games that year, and none were in the postseason.

Since then, Buchholz (pictured) has showed flashes of being one of the best pitchers in the game. Every one of those flashes was followed by an inevitable puzzling injury or a streak where he suddenly forgot how to pitch.

But every time we’re about to give up on 42nd pick of the 2005 draft, he sucks us back in. He’s like the ex-girlfriend who calls us just at the moment we’re about to sign up for Tinder.

Just when we were ready to drive him to the airport one final time after his mysterious 2013 injury derailed a Cy Young season, Buchholz cowboyed up and pitched big innings, while obviously not 100 percent, in the playoffs and World Series.

This time, though, Red Sox Nation has been hurt enough. After he put a ball on a bases-loaded tee for Colby Rasmus on Saturday, it is time to move on from Buchholz.

Or is it?

Buchholz has given up five runs in three out of his four starts. He has a 6.33 ERA.

Before we send Buchholz packing one final time, though, let’s look at the one game when he didn’t give up five runs.

On Patriots’ Day, Buchholz got the start against a powerful, pull-happy Blue Jays lineup. Judging by his start against Cleveland and Baltimore, the Red Sox had to at least consider extending the safety netting to cover the Monster seats.

But Buchholz shutdown one of the best lineups in baseball. He only struck out two batters, but Clay pitched a shutout into the seventh inning. Perhaps if John Farrell had left him in for a few more batters, the bullpen implosion wouldn’t have cost the Sox a win that day.

On Saturday, Buchholz wasn’t as bad as it seems, either. We are just judging him too harshly based on his history of breaking our hearts.

Before he ran into trouble in the fifth, Buchholz was dealing. He was showing all the signs of being the Buchholz we always hoped he would be.

Of course, that statement is kind of like the old saying, “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

Sure, Buchholz walked the leadoff hitter on a 3-2 pitch to start that horrible inning. After a two-out single, he loaded the bases with a beanball to bring up Rasmus.

What happened next might not be solely the fault of Buchholz. Apparently the entire Red Sox organization didn’t get the memo that you don’t throw fastballs to Rasmus.

While the rest of the league treats Rasmus like the Amish Pedro Cerrano, the Red Sox tried to sneak the cheese past him. Even Craig Kimbrel couldn’t even get a 98 mph heater past that beard.

Buchholz made Rasmus look bad with two curveballs. Had he thrown a third, we’d probably be talking about a sweep in Houston and looking at Clay’s horrible beard with love in our eyes once again.

It is understandable that Red Sox fans don’t want to trust Buchholz. It’s just there has been enough good signs from our ex-future ace over the past two starts to give him one last chance. Maybe 2016 will finally be the year he figures it out for more than a month or two at a time.

Let’s just give the guy until June. Then we can drive him to the airport.