After a solid 2010 season, Clay Buchholz struggled to stay on the mound in 2011 and only made 14 starts. He was looking to have a bounce back year in 2012 but is off to a disastrous start. He has started the season 3-1 with an 8.69 ERA (a perfect example of why a pitcher’s win/loss record is meaningless) and in his 5 starts he has surrendered 7, 5, 5, 5, and 6 earned runs. Let’s look a little deeper at the numbers:
Buchholz has never been a “strikeout pitcher” as evident by his career SO/9 of 6.8. Thus far in 2012 his SO/9 is only 5.0. Walks have also been a problem. He has walked a lot of batters in his career (3.8 BB/9) but has been even worse this season logging a 4.7 BB/9. Low strikeout numbers combined with a lot of walks is not a formula for success in the majors. He has also given up a lot of homeruns this season: 7 in 5 starts. Although, 5 of those came in one start against the Yankees so that total is a bit of a fluke.
Those are the numbers, now lets take a look at the physical. His average fastball velocity in 2010 was 94.1 MPH. In 2011 it dipped to 92.6 and thus far this season 92.0. He is also throwing less fastballs: 54.1% of his pitches in 2010 down to 45.8% in 2012. Clay’s fastball does not have the pop it had in 2010 and he is throwing it less often. This could be the reason we have seen a drastic drop off in his strikeouts.
Clay’s horrendous start to his 2012 season can be attributed to a small sample size (only 5 starts out of a projected 30+) and some bad luck but most of the blame is on his shoulders. Clay needs to get his strikeouts up and decrease his walks if he wants to be successful in 2012.