Clay Buchholz banished to no man's land

(Photo: AP)
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

If you were watching the game last night, you would have seen a few very sad sights last night and we are not talking about what was happening on the field.

It all took place on ESPN's coverage of the Red Sox bullpen in Yankee Stadium.

First off, they panned over the guys sitting there chatting and laughing. The bullpen consists of Tommy Layne, Matt Barnes, Brad Ziegler, Robbie Ross Jr, Koji Uehara and Heath Hembree. Then on the end, head down, picking at his fingers, talking to nobody was Clay Buchholz.

There can't really be a lonelier place for a starting pitcher than to be pulled out of the rotation and stashed in the bullpen. Buchholz can't be sent to the minors, so the only option left is for the Red Sox to let him work it out in the bullpen.

Later when the wheels came off for David Price, Ross Jr was up in the bullpen alongside Buchholz warming up. While Ross Jr has been worked hard lately, he went in over the experienced Buchholz.

Again and again, manager John Farrell chose others over Buchholz. Hembree and then Layne, while Buchholz sat down again and again. It's been like that since Buchholz last start against the Angles on 2 July 2016. He has just been sitting around in the bullpen, picking at his fingers, warming up occasionally, but just sitting back down. He is emergency starter depth, nothing more.

All of this is about to get very interesting.

Tomorrow against the Giants, the Red Sox will be reactivating Junichi Tazawa from the disabled list. To make room someone has to be moved out of the bullpen, but only Hembree, Barnes and Ross Jr have options remaining. All three are stable, reliable pieces that you really can't see being moved out in favor of Buchholz.

The shocker could be coming, according to Christopher Smith. Instead of sending Hembree down to Triple-A, the Red Sox might actually be thinking about cutting ties with Buchholz.

Is that possible?

His 6.31 ERA this season has put Buchholz into no man's land. The bench warming as starter depth does not fly when the Red Sox can roll the dice with Henry Owens and Roenis EliasThey can do no worse than Buchholz.

You also have to make room for Joe Kelly, who is about to return in a bullpen role and will always be a better option coming into games. Fans seem to like the Red Sox chances without him.

I am thinking that he is better served as trade padding and that GM Dave Dombrowski has one more move planned before the trade deadline that will see Buchholz hitting the bricks. There are other possible venues for him to try and revive his career.

It is very hard to imagine the Red Sox designating Buchholz for assignment. He is on the books for $13 million dollars this year and has another year of control in 2017 with a $500K option. It doesn't make much sense to give him away for nothing.

There has to be a trade on the horizon where Dombrowski can slip him into the mix for some value to get the Red Sox some help and let Buchholz out of his purgatory in the bullpen.

He certainly won't be pitching himself out of no man's land anytime soon.

Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.

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