Need more proof that the American League East is the toughest division in baseball? The three pitchers with the most wins in the AL all reside within our division: David Price (Tampa Bay), Phil Hughes (New York), and our own Clay Buchholz all have 10 wins on the season.
Even more impressive? Their average age is twenty-four. In fact, Clay is the elder statesman among them, and he'll be twenty-six in August. The pitcher with the most wins in the National League, Ubaldo Jimenez (13-1), is just twenty-six himself. So what does all this mean?
None of the teams with the leading pitchers have records under .500, and, of course, of the AL teams, all three teams are within a game of first place in their division. The importance of pitching cannot be understated, and the Red Sox have come to appreciate the truth in the age-old adage, "you can never have too much pitching."
At the beginning of the season, we were fretting over how all six starters would get enough innings, and somehow, two of the games I've been to this month were started by Scott Atchison and and Felix Dubront, respectively. Of course, both games ended in a "W" for the Sox, so I won't complain, but we're a long way from the "How will Tim Wakefield get to start?" "What happens when everyone's healthy?" shenanigans of Spring Training.
Who would have thought that it would be Clay Buchholz who would be leading the Sox in wins in late June? After Josh Beckett's contract extension, the signing of former Angels' ace John Lackey, and the de facto coronation of Jon Lester as Sox ace, Buchholz came in just before Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka in terms of expectations. Sure, he showed flashes of brilliance at the end of last season, but we didn't know what to expect from him in 2010.
If there were any doubts left, Clay can handle himself, and he's part of a wave of great young pitching emerging across MLB. I for one am glad he's on our side.