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.