Clay Buchholz did not have his best stuff yesterday. Was it still pretty good? Yes. Was it a step above, say, Paul Byrd? Yes. Emphatically, unequivocally, undeniably, yes. So what's the big deal? A pitcher with above average (yet below par personally) stuff pitched 6 innings while giving up one ER.
Except last year, had Clay shown up for a start and not felt that he had "his best stuff," we would have been in for a two inning hit parade where he single-handedly lost the game and clusterfucked the bullpen into oblivion. Not so this year. This is Buchholz Version 2.0. This is the young man Theo clung to tighter than Linus to his blanket. This is the no-Roy-Halladay-is-NOT-enough-for-Clay-Buchholz, Clay Buchholz.
The extended holliday in the minor leagues seems to have done exactly what Theo envisioned it would. We got back a pitcher confident enough in his abilities (which are admittedly pretty formidable) to not quite click and still realize that he could effectively shut down the opposing team. While I'm sure Clay would have rather started his season with the Big Club, he probably will come to realize - if he doesn't already - that more seasoning was exactly what he needed. The organization's Golden Boy (Pitcher's Division - GB, Position Division is one Jacoby Ellsbury) is finally playing like we all thought he would after he tossed that no-no back in 2007, and after he was lauded as the organization's top prospect in the 2008 edition of the Maple Street Press Red Sox Annual.
Right now, my postseason rotation looks like this: Josh Beckett (based on prior postseason performance, but that's another post), Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka. If Daisuke can string together a few more starts like the one he presented last Tuesday, I would put him before Clay, for the sole reason that he has shown he can handle pitching in the postseason.