Boston Red Sox: Clay Buchholz Likely Odd Man out Despite Encouraging Start

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIMay 12, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MAY 11:  Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox throws against  the Cleveland Indians in the first inning at Fenway Park May 11, 2012  in Boston, Massachusetts. Hannahan was out on the play. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It's been an interesting start to the season for Clay Buchholz. He came into 2012 trying to rebound after an injury-plagued 2011 that only allowed him to pitch in 14 games.

Since he's struggled repeatedly, that has put him in poor position to stay in the Boston starting rotation. Last night was his last shot to prove to Bobby Valentine and the front office that he's still capable of starting, according to the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham.

Buchholz did a much better job last night in a 7-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians. He was replaced after 6.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits but still picked up his fourth win of the season. Most of the damage in his latest start came in the first inning and also in the seventh when Valentine decided to take him out.

On the season, Buchholz has been deceiving based off his statistics. Yes, he's now 4-1, but his ERA is also a staggering 8.31.

He's the first player in major league history to allow five or more earned runs in his first six appearances of the season, writes Jeremy Lundblad of ESPNBoston.

He's also allowed the most earned runs over his first six appearances over the last 100 years of Red Sox history.

Lundblad also notes how he is struggling with each of his pitches and that the velocity of his fastball continues to drop every year.

Now, Buchholz did have an encouraging start and maybe he's about to turn it around, but is that enough to keep him in the rotation?

As Abraham writes, Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the brink of returning to Boston, and someone is going to lose their job. Not one of the other four starting pitchers has been that good this season, by any means of the term, but Buchholz still has one option remaining on his contract which could land him in Triple-A Pawtucket.

Abraham has strong feelings that Matsuzaka could replace Buchholz.

"As long as he's not the worst pitcher in baseball, he would be better."

If Buchholz were to have another bad outing against the Indians, Abraham thought that Justin Germano, Brandon Duckworth and Ross Ohlendorf would be possible fill-ins until Matsuzaka was definitely ready. Aaron Cook would be another option, but he's still on the 15-day disabled list and won't return until May 21 at the earliest.

We should hear Boston's plans over the next few days on what's going to happen with Clay Buchholz and the starting rotation.

Could last night be the last time that we see him in Boston for a while?