This is part of an occasional series of slightly belated MLB season previews.
There’s an old chestnut about Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz. An acclaimed sprinter in high school, Buchholz was rumored to be fast. He wasn’t just supposed to be fast for a pitcher, though. Buchholz was allegedly as fast, if not faster, than speedster OF Jacoby Ellsbury.
In 2008, Buchholz talked about how he wasn’t allowed to footrace Ellsbury while he was at a Florida sports facility in the offseason. “I’ve already been told that I’ll be fined if I race against Ellsbury,” he told Gordon Edes. Then, in 2014, Edes spoke to Clay’s father, Skip. While a player’s father is a dubious source, Skip thought his son would win handily:
“Beat [Jacoby] Ellsbury in a race? Ellsbury couldn’t sniff him, man. He could run a 4.25 40 in football. I’d see him on the bases when a ball was hit into the gap, when he hit second he was in another gear.”
If Buchholz’s reputation is accurate, maybe the Red Sox should try utilizing him as a pinch-runner, because he sure as shit can’t pitch anymore. In eight starts, Buchholz has a 6.11 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He’s allowed 1.6 homers and 3.9 walks per nine innings. Also, with his haircut, he makes Jeff Samardzija look simply adorable, like one of those fancy pet rats:
Though I have good reason for it, I’ve been a fervent defender of Buchholz’s. He was useful in the postseason. At some point, he’ll pile up a few good starts, but this time, unlike all those times in the past, I will not fall into that trap and think, “Clay’s got it again.” Buchholz could string together 13 quality starts and I know, I just know that once I start believing in him, he’s going to get shelled for seven runs over three innings in his next one.
As bad as Buchholz gets, the Red Sox will keep him in the rotation anyway, because it’s embarrassing to switch the originally projected No. 2 guy to the bullpen in the middle of the season, and because they don’t really have anyone better.
Who are the Red Sox?
The Red Sox have an insane offense and dreadful pitching. They lead MLB in runs, slugging percentage, and OPS. They’re third in on-base percentage. The club has a +57 run differential, which is surprising considering the quality of the rotation.
What guys should you know?
Jackie Bradley Jr. struggled when he was first called up in 2013, but everything seems to be coming together for him this season. He currently has a 24-game hitting streak, mostly out of the nine spot, and he’s fun to watch in the outfield.
David Ortiz, who’s retiring at the end of the season, is a guy you most definitely know. What you might not know is that he’s having an unprecedented season for a 40-year-old:
Eat shit, Lave Cross!
Papi’s had an incredible start to the season, but if you don’t like him, you can make fun of all the stupid gifts he gets from other teams for his swan song.
Other Red Sox who are fun and have good baseball names: Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, and Travis Shaw. And if you’re a fan of knuckleballers, Steven Wright’s your guy. He’s much better than Clay Buchholz. Just ignore Ryan Hanigan’s struggles to catch all the strike threes:
One GIF of a Red Sox fan
Old, but timeless.
Can they beat the Cardinals?
The Red Sox beat their asses twice for World Series titles.
Who has the best baseball chin?
Jackie Bradley Jr. has a fine chin, and it looks better when isolated by water:
So are they going to be good?
If the Red Sox can continue to score double-digit runs in every game, I am confident that they will win the World Series. Barring that, I have no clue. They’re neck-and-neck with the Orioles at the top of the AL East, but it’s a matter of Boston’s rotation getting it together. The season’s long, and they can’t keep bleeding runs. Newly signed free agent David Price’s 5.53 ERA is ugly, but we’re in May, and he’s striking guys out, so I don’t want to jump to any conclusions yet.
Why should you root for the Red Sox?
You won’t, because the Red Sox are easy to hate. But they have a bunch of fun, young players who aren’t the previous teams’ perpetually sweaty, wound-up hardasses like Kevin Youkilis, John Lackey, and Jonathan Papelbon. (Once Ortiz is gone, Dustin Pedroia will be the last remnant of that era.) If you hate pitching duels, they have a lights-out offense, which makes every game fun, until Clay Buchholz takes the mound again.