Friday, March 31, 2017

The Former Ace: The 2017 Player Preview for Clay Buchholz

I've been perplexed by the acquisition of Clay Buchholz since the move was announced.

At first, I didn't understand why the team would acquire someone coming off of such a bad season while the team had so many young arms that seem to be ready for the big leagues. Then, I could see how it might be valuable to have him eat some innings when you have Aaron Nola coming back from injuries and Vincent Velasquez not having pitched a full big league season yet.

Then Buchholz got hit hard throughout Spring Training. What should we expect from the talented right-hander?

This is the 14th in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Phillies. We previously looked at outfielder Michael Saunders. This post looks at how unpredictable Clay Buchholz is.

Let's remember two things with Buchholz. First, he pitches very well in odd numbered years. Second, he's pitched very badly over the past three years, despite a good 2015.

Odd Man Out

Let's look at Buchholz ERAs in odd numbered years.
  • 2009 - 4.21
  • 2011 - 3.48
  • 2013 - 1.74
  • 2015 - 3.26
How many times has he had an ERA below 4.56 during an even numbered season since 2008? Once. In 2010, he was an All-Star with a 17-7 record and 2.33 ERA. Will he yo-yo back into another good season? Maybe.

One thing is clear. When Buchholz is good, he's very good. As you saw above, fella dominated in 2010. In 2013, he had a 12-1 mark, limiting his hits allowed to 6.2 per nine innings. But he only threw 108 innings that year.

The problem, though, is that he's been trending in the wrong direction.

Bad Couple of Years

Since 2014, Buchholz has been atrocious. His traditional numbers: 23-28 with a 4.60 ERA - show a bad fourth or fifth starter. He also averaged just 22 starts a season.
His FIP, thanks to 2.8 walks, .9 home runs allowed and 7.1 strikeouts per 9 innings, was just 4.00. But he allowed 9.1 hits per nine.
He has just a 1.3 WAR during that stretch, compared to a 12.7 WAR the previous four seasons.

I doubt Buchholz will pitch the entire season in Philly. If he pitches well, he's probably going to get traded for a prospect. If he pitches poorly, they'll probably toss him overboard so they can bring up Jake Thompson or whomever.


GM-Carson said...

If Hellickson not had accepted the qualifying offer, I would understand the move for Buchholz, but Hellickson chose to make the money grab and stay.

Buchholz seems unnecessary to me. The Phillies have Thompson, Eflin, Lively, Pivetta, Appel, and did have Asher too in reserve should something have gone wrong with one of the core 5.

Also, they could have signed Doug Fister on the cheap, who is as good or bad (depending on how you want to look at it) as insurance.

I feel the the Kendrick/Saunders move and Buchholz addition are going to stifle some of the young players negatively and there will be just as many questions marks heading into next season because of that.

jhilton32 said...

Sorry I really don't get that whole "stifle them" argument. There's 162 starts and 1458 innings of baseball. If a kid can play, he will play. Nothing wrong with giving kids competition and making them earn it. Dak Prescott is an example. Got a couple starts and took the job. Shouldn't we expect that? Frankly, had Williams responded better to the challenge and Quinn been able to stay healthy, Howie and Michael wouldn't be here. They are perfect additions. They don't demand time, but should be upgrades and could net trade possibilities.