Friday, November 7, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Clay Buchholz

2011 projection: 13-9, 29 starts, 193 IP, 3.54 ERA, 74 BB, 168 SO
2011: 6-3, 14 starts, 82.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 31 BB, 60 SO
2012 projection: 13-8, 30 starts, 191 IP, 3.53 ERA, 73 BB, 162 SO
2012: 11-8, 29 starts, 189.1 IP, 4.56 ERA, 64 BB, 129 SO
2013 projection: 12-11, 30 starts, 205 IP, 3.56 ERA,  72 BB, 163 SO
2013: 12-1, 16 starts, 108.1 IP, 1.74 ERA, 36 BB, 96 SO
2014 projection: 12-9, 29 starts, 190 IP, 3.46 ERA, 64 BB, 153 SO
2014: 8-11, 28 starts, 170.1 IP, 5.34 ERA, 54 BB, 132 SO
2015 projection: 12-10, 29 starts, 196 IP, 3.58 ERA, 62 BB, 156 SO

I don't want to alarm anyone, but the last two years the Red Sox have won the World Series are also the only two times in Clay Buchholz's career with a season ERA under 2. 

Then again, he didn't play close to a full season either time: in 2007, it was because he was a rookie, making his debut. In 2013, he dominated in the first half, only to be sidelined by injury down the stretch.

As is his custom when turning in a full season, Buchholz's 2014 was a disappointment. It's as if his slim frame can't sustain excellence for more than a dozen starts. He's a top of the line pitcher, when he can be healthy.

Obviously, Bill James and his team can't predict injury, but if they did, Buchholz would be a safe bet. It's time to give up the dream we embraced when Buchholz came up: he's thirty years old, and he'll never be the young ace we hoped for. 

But if Buchholz can live up to James' projections for starts and ERA, he's a passable third or fourth starter. The biggest problem facing the Red Sox this offseason is their pitching. If Jon Lester returns home to us, that would be an excellent start, because having Clay Buchholz be the most established pitcher on the team (as he was after the trade deadline this year) simply doesn't work.

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