Clay Buchholz

From BR Bullpen

2005 Bowman Sterling #CB Clay Buchholz

Clay Daniel Buchholz

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Biographical Information[edit]

In the 2005 college season, pitcher Clay Buchholz had a 1.14 ERA, fifth-lowest in Division I junior colleges while pitching for Angelina College. He was chosen as an All-American by Baseball America. He was then selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round of the 2005 amateur draft and was signed by scout Jim Robinson for $800,000. He made his pro debut that summer with the Lowell Spinners and went 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 15 starts. He began the next year with the Greenville Drive, where he was 9-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 21 starts before being promoted to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, where he posted a 2-0 record and a 1.13 ERA. Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the Red Sox best pitching prospect and second best prospect overall.

Buchholz pitched the 6th inning of the 2007 Futures Game for the US. He allowed a homer to the first batter he faced, Canadian 1B Joey Votto, then struck out two of the next three to wrap up the inning. He made his major league debut for the Red Sox with a winning start against the Los Angeles Angels on August 17. He pitched a 10-0 no-hitter over the Baltimore Orioles on September 1, in his 2nd career start as an emergency fill-in for the injured Tim Wakefield. With Buchholz nearing his career high in innings pitched, manager Terry Francona decided to move him to the bullpen after that start instead of risking his young arm in the rotation.

Buchholz flirted with a second career no-hitter on April 14, 2013, when he defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-0. He held the Rays hitless through seven innings before allowing a broken bat single to Kelly Johnson to lead off the 8th inning. He then gave up another hit that inning, and Andrew Miller pitched the 9th inning to complete the combined shutout. He was the first American League pitcher to record four wins, beating the Kansas City Royals, 4-3, in the Sox's first home game since the tragic events at the Boston Marathon a week earlier. He continued to pitch lights out after that, finishing April with a 5-0 record. He had a 1.19 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings to earn the AL's Pitcher of the Month honors. He then became the first major league hurler to 6 wins when he shut down the Toronto Blue Jays on May 1st, giving up no runs on two hits in 7 innings as the Sox cruised to a 10-1 win. Not everyone was so impressed, however, as Jays broadcaster (and former major league pitcher) Dirk Hayhurst accused Clay of cheating by putting a foreign substance on the ball, showing pictures of a white substance on his left forearm on which he wiped the fingers of his throwing hand. Buchholz brushed aside the accusations, claiming he was simply using rosin, which is allowed. He improved to 7-0 on May 22nd when he defeated the Chicago White Sox, 6-2, giving up a single run over 7 innings. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time, although he had to immediately bow out due to an injury­, having pitched his last game on June 8th. He only returned to the mound on September 10th, when he pitched 5 scoreless innings to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-0 and improve his record to 10-0. His return was timely, as the Sox now had a form grip on first place in the AL East and were looking to him as one of their leaders on the mound in the upcoming postseason. he finished the season at 12-1, 1.74 in 16 starts, then made 4 starts in the postseason, with no decisions and a 4.35 ERA as the Red Sox won their third World Series in a decade by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 4 games to 2.

Buchholz made 28 starts in 2014, but with poor results, as his record was only 8-11 and his ERA rose to 5.34. For their part, the Red Sox finished last in a season to forget. He was then bitten by the injury bug in 2015, when he was limited to 18 starts. His record improved to 8-8 even though the Red Sox continued to struggle as a team, and his ERA was a solid 3.26. He also struck out 107 batters in 113 1/3 innings as he pitched quite well when he was able to take his turn. The Red Sox were much improved in the early days of the 2016 season, but while Clay was healthy, his pitching was off. Over his first 10 starts, he went 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA, prompting manager John Farrell to move him to the bullpen in late May. On May 29th, he made his first relief appearance since the 2008 season when he was sent to pitch the 10th inning against the Blue Jays with the game tied, 3-3. He came up with a scoreless inning of work, and when the Sox scored twice in the top of the 11th, was given credit for the win, the second of his career in a relief role in only three appearances. he ended up pitching 37 times for the Red Sox, with 21 starts, and a record of 8-10, 4.78. He finished strong, however, as he was 3-0, 3.14 in September, and his ERA was a solid 3.22 in the second half. That did not translated to the postseason, however, as he started Game 3 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians on October 10th but was charged with the 4-3 loss after giving up a pair of runs in four innings.

After ten seasons with the Red Sox, on December 20, 2016, Buchholz was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for 2B Josh Tobias. Things did not work out as planned with the Phillies in 2017 as Clay made only two starts, losing one and putting up an ERA of 12.27 in 7 1/3 innings when he had to go on the disabled with a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. He underwent surgery, wiping out the rest of the season. He signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals on March 20, 2018 but was released on May 1st when the Royals were not prepared to promote him to the major league team. He had put up a 1.13 ERA in AA and AAA but had walked 7 batters in 16 innings. He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 5th, and it turned out to be a good decision, as he was back pitching in the majors by May 20th. He only gave up a run in each of his first two starts, but only had a loss to show for it as the Diamondbacks' bats had fallen asleep, but on June 1st his teammates erupted for a club-record-tying 6 homers in giving him a 9-1 win over the Miami Marlins. He again gave up just 1 run, this time in 7 innings, as he lowered his ERA to 1.50. It was his first victory in almost two years, his last one having come on September 21, 2016. He was excellent from that point forward, going 7-2, 2.01 in 16 starts. However, on September 13th, he was unable to make a crucial scheduled start against the Colorado Rockies as he was scratched just before the game due to tightness in his right arm. He did not pitch again that season.

He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on March 5, 2019, as the Jays added a few veteran starters - all reclamation projects - to support holdovers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez in the starting rotation. In the same boat were Matt Shoemaker and Clayton Richard, but Clay had to start the season on the injured list (where Richard joined him just before his first scheduled start of the year). He made his debut on April 13th, and it was not a relaxed assignment, as he was facing a very strong Tampa Bay Rays team that had teed off the Jays' pitching the previous night, and his mound opponent was none other that defending 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell. But Buchholz acquitted himself well, giving up just 1 run in 6 innings, and ended up with a no-decision when the Jays managed to score three late runs against the Rays' relievers to come out on top, 3-1.

Buchholz has a good repertoire of pitches. At his best he had a low- to mid-90's fastball complemented by a changeup of just under 80 mph and his out pitch, a looping 12-to-6 curveball which induced a lot of strikeouts. By the late 2010s, though, his fastball was topping out at 90 mph, so he had to rely increasingly on changing location and speeds to fool opposing hitters, and trying to force hitters to make weak contact rather than attempt to blow pitches past them. This also means that he needed a strong defense behind him to succeed.

In a strange twist, he was introduced to his wife, former model Lindsay Clubine, by future President Donald Trump. The two were introduced in 2008 when members of the Red Sox attended a UFC fight in Anaheim, CA and later went to a party hosted by Trump, who was a promoter of the event. They were married in November of 2009 at one of the golf clubs owned by Trump, and Buchholz and Trump remained friends since.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time AL All-Star (2010 & 2013)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2010)
  • Won two World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013 (he did not play in the 2007 World Series)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Meghan Montemurro: "Buchholz's likely season-ending surgery serves as cautionary tale for Phillies", USA Today Sports, April 18, 2017. [1]
  • Bob Nightengale: "With Donald Trump in his corner, Diamondbacks' Clay Buchholz back to his old ways", USA Today Sports, June 13, 2018. [2]

Related Sites[edit]