At one point last season, the thought of Boston picking up Clay Buchholz's option for 2017 was pure folly. At the end of May, the right-hander had a 6.35 ERA through 10 starts, earning a demotion to the bullpen. During one July stretch, he had gone 19 days between appearances. The maddeningly inconsistent Buchholz seemed to have pitched his way out of Boston, but an injury to Steven Wright necessitated a return to the rotation for Buchholz. And he finished in style, posting a 3.31 ERA while striking out 25 in 32.2 innings over his final six starts. The turnaround came about after Buchholz started pitching exclusively out of the stretch. The newfound success changed the calculus regarding the team's $13 million option, but the Red Sox ultimately traded Buchholz to Philadelphia after adding Chris Sale. His fantasy outlook improves with the move, as he will head to the NL while becoming the Phillies' clear fifth starter.
Buchholz gave up three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four over 3.1 innings against the Pirates on Sunday. "Let's put it this way," manager Pete Mackanin said to PhillyVoice.com, "you can't honestly say he had a good spring but he was up close to 90 pitches today. Pitch-count wise he's doing fine. He hadn't pitched in nine days so I can understand his lack of command. Once he's into a rhythm, I think he'll be fine." Making his first start since March 15 -- he and his wife welcomed a child into the world last week -- Buchholz struggled to locate with any consistency. He believes the control of his offspeed pitches will come, and Mackanin doesn't seem to be putting much stock into Buchholz's spring performance (5.94 ERA, 1.68 WHIP). Buchholz lines up to make one more Grapefruit League start before taking the hill in the Phillies' third regular season game, April 6 in Cincinnati.
Buchholz allowed three runs on four hits over 3.1 innings against the Yankees on Friday. He struck out six and walked one. Buccholz told Ralph Long of CSN Philadelphia that he was working on his four-seam fastball, a pitch he started to use a bit more toward the end of last season. He wants to use the high four-seamer more to complement his sinker to force batters to adjust their eye levels. Buchholz struggled in the first half of last season, but was 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 19 appearances (eight starts) after July 2. He's worth a look toward the end of drafts.
Buchholz was traded to the Phillies on Tuesday in exchange for second base prospect Josh Tobias, the Philadelphia Daily News' Matt Gelb reports. Buchholz was expendable after Boston acquired Chris Sale earlier in the offseason, and the primary motivation for moving him was to get his $13.5 million salary off the books. He will become a free agent after the 2017 season. His fantasy stock is certainly trending up after this move, as he will head to the National League and get out of the American League East, while also going from a likely bullpen/swing man role to the Phillies' clear fifth starter. Buchholz has struggled to stay healthy for seemingly his entire career, but he has a career 3.96 ERA, and as recently as 2015 he posted a 22.8 percent strikeout rate. He is worth a flyer in deep mixed leagues and could be a solid contributor in NL-only formats.
The Red Sox picked up their 2017 option of $13.5 million for Buchholz's contract, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reports. On the surface, Buchholz's 2017 season looks vastly underwhelming, as he rounded out the year with a 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. However, he finished the season on a strong note and recorded an ERA of 2.86 and 3.14 in August and September, respectively.
Following Sunday's game being postponed, Buchholz will pitch Game 3 of the ALDS on Monday night, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports Although the game was postponed a day, the Red Sox will send out their same scheduled starter for Monday's outing. Buchholz has a lofty 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP for the year, but has shown improvement as of late. Across his last five starts, Buchholz has posted an ERA and WHIP of 3.14 and 1.15, respectively.