A disclaimer, to start.
I love Clay Buchholz.
I've loved him since September 1, 2007, when he no-hit the Baltimore Orioles, 10-0, in just his second major league start. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he became the third MLB pitcher since 1900 to throw a no-hitter in his first or second start. He was also the first Red Sox rookie to do so.
Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride for the now-27-year-old right-hander, who was a 2005 first-round draft pick of the Red Sox.
In 2008 he fell apart, going on the DL in May, losing the touch on his fastball and being demoted to Triple-A. After a recall in July he did not win another decision, ending the season 2-9 with a ghastly 6.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.763.
He split 2009 between Pawtucket and Boston, but pitched pretty well in the second half after Tim Wakefield was hurt. He ended up with a much-improved 7-4 record, 4.21 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
In 2010 he got it all together, earning an All-Star team selection after starting the season 10–4 with a 2.45 ERA. He then went 4–0 in August with a 1.03 ERA, and was named AL pitcher of the month. Buchholz finished the season with a 17–7 record, a 2.33 ERA and a 1.203 WHIP. His ERA+ of 187 led the league, and resulted in some Cy Young consideration.
He started off well in 2011, going 6-3 in 14 starts before back troubles sent him to the DL in June. Initial reports suggested that he would be back in a couple of weeks after the inflammation calmed down, but the problem persisted. He was finally diagnosed with a stress fracture of the lower back and was shut down for the season.
His importance to the Red Sox success in 2012 cannot be overestimated, and initial reports from spring training suggest that he may be in for a terrific year.
Here are some of those considerations.