Clay Buchholz Holds the Key to the Remainder of the Red Sox Season

Christopher Benvie@CSBenvie81Correspondent IIMay 21, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 16:  Pitcher Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on May 16, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

His current performance notwithstanding, how Clay Buchholz performs for the Boston Red Sox from here on out will determine the ebb and flow of wins and losses for the team.

Going back to his final three starts in June of 2011, Buchholz has only managed a 6.84 ERA. Sure, that's slightly better than the 7.77 ERA he owns going into action against the Orioles, but overall, it is pretty awful.

Especially for a pitcher that many believed to be an ace someday.

With the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff seemingly figuring things out, that leaves Buchholz as the odd man out.

Josh Beckett has given up just one run in his last two outings. While Jon Lester has given up only five earned runs in his last two outings, also winning both games. Beckett and Lester have been the biggest concerns on this pitching staff and both have apparently corrected whatever issues were plaguing their respective performances.

Buchholz is incapable of doing the same thus far.

The problem has been Buchholz's inability to get his curveball over at all this season. It was apparent in Spring Training and it remains true to this day. That is, in my opinion based on my years spent watching Buchholz and holding him to my own eyeball test.

In 2010, he had all of his pitches working for him. It was also a fully healthy season for him. The beautiful thing about that was the fact that his curve was utilized as his out pitch, used only 8.6 percent of the time.

In 2012, it feels as though he is trying too hard to get the pitch over, as evidenced by the fact he's been forcing it and has thrown it 19.7 percent of the time.

It is never a good thing when a pitchers best pitch cannot be used effectively. At one time, his curve was considered to be the best in the Red Sox organization. Right now, Wally the Green Monster might have a more dangerous 12-to-6 for batters to face.

The team has received more out of pitchers Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront than we ever could have asked for already. The bullpen has become lights out.

Yet, there stands Buchholz, behind every other pitcher in baseball in ERA.

The Red Sox need to make a hard decision very soon. Do they allow Buchholz more rope to either hang himself or save himself, or do they create a phantom (or perhaps, not so phantom) injury that sends him to the DL to make room for Daisuke Matsuzaka or, dare I say, Roy Oswalt?

Time will tell.