Posted on May 28, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine

Clay Buchholz

Image by Getty Images

Despite sitting in first place in the AL East, the frontline starters the Boston Red Sox expected to carry the team have underperformed. Righty Clay Buchholz has been the most egregious violator, holding a 6.35 ERA and a 2-5 record across 10 starts, and it appears the Red Sox have run out of patience with him. Boston announced Friday that Buchholz has been taken out of the rotation and moved to the bullpen.

Buchholz made his most recent start Thursday against the Colorado Rockies, allowing six runs on seven hits over five innings. It was his worst start of the season, and the fourth time in 10 starts that Buchholz struck out two or fewer batters. That game was apparently the last straw for the Red Sox.

Red Sox manager John Farrell says the move is not permanent, but that Buchholz will remain in the bullpen until he sorts through the issues that have plagued him this year. “This is something that’s been done for a lot of years. A starter scuffles, they go to the bullpen to work things out. That’s what we’re doing with Clay,” Farrell said Friday.

“I can tell you that Clay understands the decision but probably doesn’t like it,” Farrell went on to say. “His attitude toward the move has got to be one where you take this as an opportunity to work through some of the issues that have presented themselves, and that’s been the big innings or that’s been the home runs that have come with men on.” The manager concluded, “Maybe in shorter stints, shorter looks, he begins to gain a little momentum and gets back on track.”

Farrell said Buchholz will be used as the long man out of the bullpen, pitching multiple innings “until we get some repetition and appearances out of the bullpen.” Replacing him in the rotation will be lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who is expected to be activated in time to start Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez has is currently on the DL but has made five rehab starts in triple-A, posting a 3.54 ERA. He made 21 starts with the Red Sox in 2015, going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA.

Obviously, moving Buchholz to the bullpen was not part of Boston’s plan for the 2016 season, but the Red Sox should be commended for not sticking with him through his struggles just because they’re in first place. The move to the bullpen should take some pressure off Buchholz, allowing him to right the ship. Boston is in first place despite the struggles of Buchholz, so surely they can remain in first place with Buccholz out of the rotation. If he happens to figure things out and can return to the rotation an improved pitcher, the Red Sox could get a big boost the second half of the season and the move to the bullpen will be well worth it.

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