Three months ago, I'm sure Clay Buchholz didn't know which way was up. He had been mowing down minor leaguers while watching John Smoltz and Brad Penny struggle (for the most part) at the major league level. He knew he could be effective in the bigs, and other teams did too, which is why at the trade deadline he was one of the most coveted arms on the board.....
THANK GOD, Theo and company kept the asking price for Buchholz at an unreasonable level. You can point to Theo's failures this year (namely Smoltz and Penny), but you have to look at what a difference his in-season moves have made for this ballclub. V-Mart has lifted the offense out of the doldrums, and Gonzo has solidified the end of the lineup while contributing his masterful defense up the middle. The real prize however, was the deal that Theo didn't make. Keeping Buchholz close to his chest has paid the highest dividends, not only for this season, but perhaps in the long haul as well.
At the end of last year, his confidence had been defeated and character questioned, but Clay Buchholz has shoved it all back in everyone's face. I will freely admit that I was one of the many who was willing to deal Clay back in July. I was ready to accept dealing "potential young talent" for a "proven big league arm" or a "middle of the order bat".....turns out Theo got us both without dealing Clay at all.
The sample size may be somewhat limited, but what this kid has done over the last two months has exceeded every one's expectations. I don't care what you say, you didn't know he was going to be this good. His confidence is through the roof, teams have a limited book on him, and hitters are continually frozen by a change up that comes at you with the same exact motion as his mid 90's fastball. The Sox are 7-0 in his last 7 starts, he has the lowest ERA on the staff (3.21 (1.38 in September)), and if you back out two clunker games that appear to be exceptions to the rule, his numbers would be Grienke-like.
If you think about the second half MVP for this Red Sox team, many would point to J-Bay, V-Mart, or even Ortiz (leading the league in taters since early July), but the right answer is Buchholz. A 25 year old pitcher who has shown the entire league that he is far more than a flash in the pan arm who threw a no hitter only to never recover. Will he keep this up? Tough to tell. Odds are he'll come back to earth a little. Regardless, the consistency he's shown has put the league on notice: right now, the Sox have the best 1-2-3 combination in baseball, and they're ready for October.