Even the best pitchers have some rough stretches, and these rough stretches get magnified when they occur so early in the season. Such is the case for Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. After his Patriot’s Day start on April 21, his fourth start of the season, Buchholz is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA — far below the standards he set last year when he finished with a record of 12-1, 1.74 ERA. While no one could reasonably expect any pitcher to repeat that performance every year, fans can expect better from him than they have seen so far this year.
Again, though, the ERA is magnified. In only two of his four starts has Buchholz allowed more than two runs: April 5 and 21. In his other two starts (April 10 and 16), Buchholz has allowed two runs in six innings each time. Let us wait and see how well he pitches in May before we reach final judgement on his season. He has had an ERA well under 4.00 in three of the past four years. He will most likely turn it around. If he does not, then a shake-up in the rotation is in order.
Another factor tends to magnify statistics early: placement in the standings. After Monday’s game, the Red Sox are now 9-11 and in last place in the American League East, 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees. It is still early, and that deficit is small, but after nearly a month, fans could start to wonder what has happened to their team that won the World Series last year with close to the same roster.
Most of the starting pitching has done well: Buchholz and Felix Doubront have had some trouble. However, each has the track record that shows he will snap out of it. Each had better soon, or the Red Sox may have a tough time catching up. Again, it is still very early, but they do not want to wait too long. Getting Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks back in the lineup by the end of this week will also help.
Yes, statistics can get magnified this early in the season, and, no, early performance does not necessarily project to stay that way for the whole season. Nevertheless, the Red Sox need all of their starting pitchers to step it up, especially Buchholz and Doubront.