With the recent news of All-Star and fan favorite 42 year-old Tim Wakefield going on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his lower back, Clay Buchholz is once again back in the big leagues.
In Clay's first start of the 2009 campaign on Friday in Toronto, he showed that he is still that sexy blue chip prospect that the Red Sox deemed untouchable. Unless of course the Cardinals come calling with an offer for Albert Pujols, or the Twins come calling with an offer for Joe Mauer. Other than that, Clay has once again regained his spotlight in the Red Sox organization.
He pitched only 5.2 innings, allowing only 4 hits and striking out 3. It was more than just the numbers, trust me. Clay pitched with confidence, was location his pitches, and had the swagger he had in 2007 when he pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in only his second Major League Start.
Last month, Clay was asked his attitude and feelings toward dominating Pawtucket and still not getting his chance. He was frustrated and did his very best to say the right things. It almost sounded as though he wanted a trade out of here but also made it clear that his top priority was to help out the Boston Red Sox.
Point in all of this being, he has at least three starts to tell the Red Sox that he has matured, grown up, and developed into a top of the line starter. He has accomplished the feat once with his performance last Friday, now his second audition is tomorrow night in Arlington against a very strong offensive team in the Texas Rangers.
If he has another strong outing, Clay only adds more pressure to Theo Epstein and company as to what needs to be done at the trade deadline. If Clay pitches well in his next start, which is more than likely next Tuesday against the Oakland A's at Fenway Park, Theo would have to strongly consider trading Brad Penny or moving the struggling John Smoltz into the bullpen.
Theo has had plenty of trade offers for Buchholz over the last three years. Some of the trade rumors involved Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Matt Holiday, Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, etc. However, Theo has held onto Clay for the very sake that the potential is there for him to be an ace like Josh Beckett and soon to be ace Jon Lester.
Imagine a four game series where the pitchers are Beckett, Lester, Dice-K (if healthy), and Clay? That sounds unreal, and lets not forget Grandpa Wake. That would easily be the best rotation in baseball and would make you think, which team has three top line starters let alone four (and a half including Wake)?
This is a big two week time frame for the soon to be 25-year-old. He believes he belongs, I have long believed he belongs, and now it's time to prove it to Theo, John Farrell, and Tito.
The player T number 61 Buchholz t-shirt that I own has been proudly worn for two years now (I was easily one of the first people to buy his player shirt). Clay, it is now your time to become the next young star for all of Sox Nation to embrace. Get 'er done.