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Buchholz '08 Take Two


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#1 86spike


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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:19 AM

So what do we expect from the golden child this time?

I'd be pretty happy with 12 starts, 6 wins, 65-70 IP, 50 Ks and an ERA around 4.00.

#2 jodyreeddudley78

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:31 AM

I'd be pretty happy with 12 starts, 6 wins, 65-70 IP, 50 Ks and an ERA around 4.00.


Which is pretty much what the Sox have received from the combination of Buchholz/Masterson/Colon so far.

The only thing that worries me about that line is the fact that you might not get the same production in the second half out of Wakefield, thus making Buchholz a much more important role player as the Sox likely won't be able to depend on the bullpen for a large amount of quality IP for the remainder of 08.

#3 Dogman2


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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:37 AM

Which is pretty much what the Sox have received from the combination of Buchholz/Masterson/Colon so far.

The only thing that worries me about that line is the fact that you might not get the same production in the second half out of Wakefield, thus making Buchholz a much more important role player as the Sox likely won't be able to depend on the bullpen for a large amount of quality IP for the remainder of 08.


If we are likely to not get the same production from Wakefield, or you expect him to revert to his career norms, whats to say the 'pen can't play league average or better?

#4 jodyreeddudley78

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:44 AM

If we are likely to not get the same production from Wakefield, or you expect him to revert to his career norms, whats to say the 'pen can't play league average or better?


Mainly the fact that the pen has been worse than an abstract league average pen so far. I guess Masterson could help with this in the second half, but, honestly, do you feel comfortable handing the ball to the pen to get 4 innings and a winning effort right now?

#5 maufman


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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:02 AM

Mainly the fact that the pen has been worse than an abstract league average pen so far. I guess Masterson could help with this in the second half, but, honestly, do you feel comfortable handing the ball to the pen to get 4 innings and a winning effort right now?


Clay B's 2008 stats:

FIP = 3.37
xFIP = 3.67
P/PA = 3.9

Among ERA qualifiers, Buchholz would rank 8th in xFIP and tied for 7th in FIP. Pay no attention to his inflated ERA; the kid's stuff is as good as advertised, and the results will fall into line sooner rather than later. That's the good news.

The bad news? Only 4 ERA qualifiers average more than 3.9 P/PA. In the long run, I'm not worried; a lot of effective pitchers have high P/PA rates. In the short run, however, Buchholz isn't likely to pitch into the 7th inning often. Our bullpen isn't quite as bad as its YTD stats suggest, but it sorely lacks depth. When Buchholz starts, we're likely to rely regularly on the likes of Mike Timlin and Craig Hansen to protect leads. That's not a good place to be.

#6 OilCanShotTupac


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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:24 AM

In his latest stint at Pawtucket, he pitched 43 2/3 innings, with 17 walks and 43 K's.

That would seem to indicate that he was getting that sweet curveball over for strikes, which would be a very good thing.

Did anyone see him pitch there?

#7 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:39 AM

It's more important that he get his fastball over. Wasn't he sent down to improve his fastball command?

Farrell said that they knew something had to be done when certain hitters, who you wouldn't think would, were sitting on his changeup. In other words, even weak weasel hitters who everyone tries to blow away were ignoring Clay's fastball because they didn't think he'd throw it for strikes and they wouldn't have to swing at it.

#8 Kevin Youkulele


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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:39 AM

In his latest stint at Pawtucket, he pitched 43 2/3 innings, with 17 walks and 43 K's.

That would seem to indicate that he was getting that sweet curveball over for strikes, which would be a very good thing.

Did anyone see him pitch there?

Keep in mind though that those numbers are against AAA hitters, and it's easier to overpower them or get them to chase crap. This is one case where the scouting report adds a lot of context to the stats. I did find this about his 6/30 start in the milb forum:

I was at the game (I had to leave after the 6th- it had been pouring since the 2nd inning and the kids were too wet to stay). It did not look like Buchholz was injured in anyway. He had a prolonged wait before he came out in the 5th. The Pawsox scored 4 runs in the top of the 5th and the Chiefs had a pitching change. Moreover, there was a delay between innings while the grounds crew worked on the field. I was surprised that he came out the fifth given the length of time between innings. The Pawsox had Vaquedano warming up before the 5th as well. Buchholz came out in the 5th and walked the leadoff on 4 straight balls and then threw 2 balls to the next batter before inducing a ground out (I think it was a double play ball to Thurston). So I do not think he was injured, just maybe a bit tight on a rainy night after a prolonged break.

That said, he looked very strong. I don't know if you can trust the gun at Alliance Bank but his fastball was registering 92-93. He was mixing it up well with a nasty looking curve that was registering at 77. He made the Chiefs look pretty silly at times.

And about his 7/5 start:

Was at the Pawsox game yesterday. Clay was at 92-94 for most of his five innings but didn't seem to have much for command. He had one bad inning where he gave up 4 of his 5 runs, the big blow a 3R homer to the top of the grass in the LF picnic area with 2 outs. He missed up in the zone with what looked like a fastball (I was sitting on the 1B side) and there was no doubt about the HR. The rest of the staff looked solid, but not spectacular. Holdzcom was hitting 94 on the gun. The umpire did seem to have a tight zone (for both sides).



#9 Jnai


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Posted 11 July 2008 - 09:50 PM

I'll let everyone else argue about how he was good/bad/sucked/whatever, but since the release point change was supposed to be the big deal, I thought I would post some pictures of it.

I used two starts with Fenway so that I would not have to deal with slight variations in gameday parameters, one was from 5/2/08 against the Rays, the other from tonight.


Here is from 5/2:
Posted Image


Here is tonight:
Posted Image


Tonight moves pretty clearly down and to the left (i.e., Clay is dropping his arm slot very slightly), but I'm not sure if it's significant.

****

One last note while we're at it:
5/2/08 Fastball Velocity averaged 92.77 and topped at 95.7.
7/11/08 Fastball Velocity averaged 95.48 and topped at 97.2.

****

Data available here:
5/2/08:
http://brooksbasebal...mp;prevDate=711

7/11/08:
http://brooksbasebal...amp;prevDate=52

...but you knew that you could get the data there if you wanted to, right? =)

Edited by Jnai, 11 July 2008 - 09:59 PM.


#10 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 11 July 2008 - 09:58 PM

Well, obviously he wasn't very good tonight. It's tough to argue otherwise given 6 hits and 5 walks in 5 innings. He had no command of anything in the first inning; whether that was due to nerves or routine struggles I am not sure. He seemed to be making a point to establish the fastball early, but it wasn't really effective. I believe all three of Roberts' hits came off the fastball.

His offspeed stuff seemed up all night long; maybe the new arm angle was affecting his control. He did drop some nice curves in for strikes, but he often seemed to be missing Varitek's spot on those pitches, going outside when Vartiek wanted them inside a couple of times.

I have to think that in the back of his mind Buchholz may believe he is auditioning for a job for the rest of the month; if the Sox don't see him make some improvements in his remaining July starts then the Sox will probably be looking to acquire another starting pitcher for the stretch run. I think that's a reasonable assumption to make, particularly given that Colon is still injured and doesn't appear close to returning.

#11 Harry Hooper


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Posted 11 July 2008 - 10:00 PM

Clay: Nerves in the first inning. Trying too hard to impress everybody...I felt stronger as the game went on.

Edited by Harry Hooper, 11 July 2008 - 10:01 PM.


#12 Paul M


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 12:08 AM

I'll probably get vilified for saying this but IMHO his fastball is a lot like John Wasdin's (93-95 but straight as an arrow) and his release is similar. His plus change-up and plus plus curveball make him a strong potential top starter but I expect to see some dominant innings and some tough ones like we saw tonight and earlier in the year. He didn't pitch badly at all tonight but he's still developing and will be prone to mistakes with command and will battle with getting the ball down at times.

#13 TedsColdHead

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:24 AM

I thought the new arm slot gave his fastball some late movement. In fact, Remy even mentioned it and showed it in a replay. He obviously still needs to work on command and slow down. This is a going to be a work in progress for awhile. I'd like to see him pay a little more attention to base runners!

#14 Jnai


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:09 AM

About the movement on his fastball:

This is a trace of the average trajectory of his fastball last night when plotted as if looking down on pitch.

So, the release point is at the top of the graph, and the "plate" is on the bottom.

Posted Image

He's getting some two-seam movement, but not a ton.


For comparison purposes, here's the tracing of a guy who gets a ton of movement on his fastball - Masterson. For help as well, his slider is also on the graph:
Posted Image

#15 Sprowl


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 11:26 AM

Buchholz got swinging strikes from both the fastball and the changeup. Oriole hits came on fastballs and one slider. Check out the at-bat results for each pitch type (clockwise from top right: fastball, changeup, slider, curve): 3 singles, a double and a triple on the fastball. Because the action and speed on Buchholz's changeup and slider can overlap, the best separation between the 4 pitches comes on the spin direction * spin magnitude chart.

It's hard not to like the velocity on the fastball, but the ones thrown in the strike zone looked straight and hittable. He did get some outrageous movement on the high fastballs to strike out Markakis, and those swinging strikes didn't come from velocity alone, but against the Orioles on July 11 he was wild in the strike zone.

The curve is very uneven: some of them break late and sharp, like Beckett's. Many others floated high and to the catcher's left (ie, inside on RHH, outside on LHH). Very few of them looked like the big looping curveballs that Buchholz used to throw before his demotion, like the final pitch in his 2007 no-hitter.

Edited by Sprowl, 12 July 2008 - 12:44 PM.


#16 mr guido

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 11:32 AM

He's getting some two-seam movement, but not a ton.
For comparison purposes, here's the tracing of a guy who gets a ton of movement on his fastball - Masterson. For help as well, his slider is also on the graph:

That's not really a fair comparison, given that the two are at different speeds. Masterson's fastballs live at 87-90 mph, while Buchholz earlier in the season lived 92-93, and last night was living at 95-96. It was a pretty dramatic change.

Edited by mr guido, 12 July 2008 - 11:36 AM.


#17 Harry Hooper


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 12:08 PM

Buchholz felt he had more velocity on the fastball.

"Yeah, I feel like I do just for the fact that it feels more free and easy," he said. "It might be 3 inches lower from what I was throwing from, but it feels like I don't have to move any other part of my body to let my arm get through.

"I think that's what the whole factor of me going down and working on stuff was for me to duplicate that delivery and keep it in the same arm slot."

Varitek said Buchholz is not strictly a fastball pitcher because "he's got such dominant offspeed stuff."

Francona seemed pleased with Buchholz's progress - after the first, that is.

"The next couple innings, I thought his fastball had some explosion on it," Francona said. "He threw with some finish, real good velocity, pretty good offspeed. I thought there were times he worked ahead and tried to make a great pitch and worked the count back into hitters' counts.

"Just repeating his pitches and getting himself into a position where he is ahead in the count more than not would certainly be beneficial.

"There's a lot to like with this kid."


Holmes

#18 mr guido

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 12:36 PM

Wow, Clay found something magical down in the minor leagues with regards to his fastball. The numbers are pretty eye popping. He's always been able to reach back for high heat, but last night was something else.

Here's a graph of Buchholz' fastball speed pre & post minor league stint.

Posted Image

Last night his FB averaged 95.5 mph, vs 92.2 before. For reference a 95.5 average FB would put him among the top 10 in MLB (all pitchers, not just starters). Papelbon averages 95.1, Beckett 94.2, Joba 95.4, Hansen 95.4, Delcarmen 95.8. Interestingly, according to the pitch_fx data (speed, horizontal & vertical movement), Buchholz' fastball last night was nearly indistinguishable from Delcarmen's.

This all seems kind of unfair to batters given Buchholz' dangerous curve & change, so if this is sustainable I don't see how it could hurt.

One other thing, nerves obviously affected him in the 1st inning when he only threw 38% (11 of 29) pitches for strikes. From the 2nd inning on he threw 69% strikes (54 of 78).

#19 Sprowl


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 12:53 PM

One note of caution in the enthusiasm over Buchholz's newfound velocity: the Fenway cameras were a bit flaky last night. Brian Burres averaged 89 mph on his fastball, compared to 87.6 mph in his prior start against the Rangers. MDC averaged 96.75 on the fastball; on the other hand, Aardsma didn't get up to 94 on any pitch.

I wouldn't be surprised if Buchholz appears to lose 1-2 mph in the next start solely because of data issues.

#20 mr guido

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 01:17 PM

These aren't the "Fenway cameras" in the sense that they are like the Fenway gun displayed on the scoreboard. They're the pitchfx cameras care of Sportsvision, so it's not like anyone is dialing up the speed for the sake of making Clay feel good.

Besides, not sure if there's any real effect worth noting from last night's game.
Jim Johnson, 93.9 mph season, 94.0 last night
Aardsma, 94.8 season, 93.8 last night
Burres, 88.0 season, 89.0 last night

Looks more just like normal variation from the pitchers. The real question is whether or not Clay can sustain the kind of velocity that, as pointed out above, is normally reserved for the kinds of dudes who come in from the bullpen and fling 10 or 15 fastballs rather than the 56 that he threw last night.

#21 Jnai


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 01:34 PM

That's not really a fair comparison, given that the two are at different speeds. Masterson's fastballs live at 87-90 mph, while Buchholz earlier in the season lived 92-93, and last night was living at 95-96. It was a pretty dramatic change.


I was just posting Masterson so that people had some reference for what different trajectories look like. I agree that if Buchholz can throw his fastball (and control it) at 96, he's going to be devastating.

#22 Sprowl


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Posted 12 July 2008 - 02:21 PM

These aren't the "Fenway cameras" in the sense that they are like the Fenway gun displayed on the scoreboard. They're the pitchfx cameras care of Sportsvision, so it's not like anyone is dialing up the speed for the sake of making Clay feel good.

Besides, not sure if there's any real effect worth noting from last night's game.
Jim Johnson, 93.9 mph season, 94.0 last night
Aardsma, 94.8 season, 93.8 last night
Burres, 88.0 season, 89.0 last night

Looks more just like normal variation from the pitchers. The real question is whether or not Clay can sustain the kind of velocity that, as pointed out above, is normally reserved for the kinds of dudes who come in from the bullpen and fling 10 or 15 fastballs rather than the 56 that he threw last night.

I haven't been to Fenway in decades, sadly, so I'm not speaking of the scoreboard readings. There are persistent idiosyncrasies in Pitchfx data from different parks -- Philadelphia's velocity readings are very slow; Yankee Stadium's horizontal break readings are badly exaggerated. Fenway seems to be closer to the mean than either of those, but even so it tends to be a little on the fast side, and pitchers like Papelbon are often a little slower on the road. There's no suggestion that the camera operators are trying to flatter or pump up the Red Sox pitchers: it's probably an issue of calibration.

The readings from starters Burres and Buchholz come from lots of pitches: they provide a better basis for comparison than any reliever, including Aardsma, who was throwing poorly last night. Aardsma's velocity readings are also distorted by the inclusion of several (2 by my count) splitters among his fastballs.

When a prime prospect like Buchholz returns after working on mechanical changes, it is inevitable that we will try to mine every source of information to see how effective those changes are. My point is that the data are inherently variable enough to make broad conclusions about his new pitching style conjectural until we have more observations over several games.

#23 DieHard3


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Posted 18 July 2008 - 10:46 PM

I'll let everyone else argue about how he was good/bad/sucked/whatever, but since the release point change was supposed to be the big deal, I thought I would post some pictures of it.


It seems this release point change is going about as well as the "we-know-it-all-about-pitching" adjustments went with Craig Hansen and Dan Bard. What possible justification is there for this interference with the very steady development of Clay Buchholz into the best pitching prospect in major league baseball? Is the thought that his no-hitter last season should have been a perfect game but for the poor arm slot he was using? Can anyone point to a case where the Red Sox interfered with a pitchers' development successfully?

I DON'T GET IT? Why screw up something that's already working beautifully?

#24 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 18 July 2008 - 10:46 PM

Houston, we have a problem.

Buchholz' last 4 starts, 2 before his Pawtucket sojurn and 2 afterwards:

11 baserunners in 4 IP.
13 baserunners in 4.1 IP
11 baserunners in 5 IP
11 baserunners in 4.2 IP.

I think I see a pattern here.

Whatever changes the Sox made to his motion, nothing's currently working at all. He was supposed to get more fastball control from the new mechanics; it has gotten worse.

He has regressed quite a bit.

#25 yecul


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Posted 18 July 2008 - 10:52 PM

With Boston's track record of fudging with young pitcher's approaches I think we should all give them the benefit of the doubt. You can't argue with success. Heck, just look at Craig Hansen. And now Buchholz. This is a team that knows 100% how to adjust the kids.

#26 Paul M


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Posted 18 July 2008 - 11:09 PM

It's not like Buchholz was excelling BEFORE he went to AAA, though. I had concerns even during his success that he'll eventually need to use his fastball more. It is going to be a work in progress and he'll need to make the adjustment. He's not getting anything out of AAA, and he's still their best bet as the #5 starter. They are not infallible when it comes to young pitching, though who is? Lester took time to get his control and Buchholz will have ups and downs the rest of this season. Beckett had a very uneven first season, too. I can understand the frustration, but I am not sure why the development people are getting trashed though. Bard was a mess and now has a role that works; Hansen was not setting the world on fire before and with both guys they needed to make adjustments to have sustained success. Buchholz might end up never being a #1 but that's ok. We're expecting so much out of him and that no-hitter was probably a curse. Give him the rest of this season and all of the off-season and spring training before getting too hysterical. They didn't try to fix a guy who was not broken on this one.

#27 DieHard3


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Posted 18 July 2008 - 11:17 PM

I can understand the frustration, but I am not sure why the development people are getting trashed though. Bard was a mess and now has a role that works; Hansen was not setting the world on fire before and with both guys they needed to make adjustments to have sustained success.


Hansen was in the major leagues and pitching decently within two months of being drafted. He spent the next 1-1/2 seasons unable to retire my grandmother consistently. Then he went back to the delivery he had in college, started dominating AAA, and has had uneven performances in the major leagues.

Bard was tinkered with and rendered unable to throw a strike. Bard went back to his old delivery in Hawaii and began throwing strikes again this season at the same rate he did in college.

Buchholz might end up never being a #1 but that's ok. We're expecting so much out of him and that no-hitter was probably a curse. Give him the rest of this season and all of the off-season and spring training before getting too hysterical. They didn't try to fix a guy who was not broken on this one.



It does sorta make that whole "Would you rather have Chamberlin or Buchholz?" debate look quite silly, doesn't it? Of course, if the Red Sox had drafted Chamberlin, who knows, maybe they would have tried to turn him into a sidearming knuckleballer in order protect his long-term health.

#28 PedroSpecialK


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:09 AM

The thing with Hansen is that it wasn't the Sox who altered his delivery - it was his agent (Boras) and his agent's consultants who decided to make the change to prolong Hansen's career.

#29 Paul M


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 07:09 AM

The Sox knew they could always get a reliever out of Bard but wanted to make changes to see if he could start and there was debate amongst scouts if he could be a starter.

If anything, the drafting of Bard is questionable.

The Yankees are starting Sidney Ponson these days; I really want to trade places with them.

The funny thing is I've had some concerns about Buchholz myself and like the Sox trying this since like with all the others he can always go back, but what he'll go back to is maybe a little less than his true potential.

After 11 years, I should know when to give up these debates.

#30 maufman


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 07:28 AM

Last night his FB averaged 95.5 mph, vs 92.2 before. For reference a 95.5 average FB would put him among the top 10 in MLB (all pitchers, not just starters). Papelbon averages 95.1, Beckett 94.2, Joba 95.4, Hansen 95.4, Delcarmen 95.8. Interestingly, according to the pitch_fx data (speed, horizontal & vertical movement), Buchholz' fastball last night was nearly indistinguishable from Delcarmen's.

This all seems kind of unfair to batters given Buchholz' dangerous curve & change, so if this is sustainable I don't see how it could hurt.


I like MDC more than most folks here, but this isn't an encouraging comparison. IIRC, MDC's fastball is very flat (no movement). Am I correct?

Of course, if you're just using your 95 mph heat to set up your off-speed stuff, then throwing a flat FB is a forgivable sin.

#31 geoduck no quahog


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 11:14 AM

11 baserunners in 4 IP.
13 baserunners in 4.1 IP
11 baserunners in 5 IP
11 baserunners in 4.2 IP.


I don't think it's fair to just look at the stats. I only watched the 1st inning last night, and what I saw didn't look as bad as the stats would imply.

I think I saw a guy who became afraid to throw strikes. I didn't see the rest of the game, but having to throw all those pitches in the 1st must also have had an effect.

Was he in any way better than last time?

#32 DieHard3


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:57 PM

I don't think it's fair to just look at the stats. I only watched the 1st inning last night, and what I saw didn't look as bad as the stats would imply.

I think I saw a guy who became afraid to throw strikes. I didn't see the rest of the game, but having to throw all those pitches in the 1st must also have had an effect.

Was he in any way better than last time?


I'd be really interested in seeing some disaggregated special effects for last night. The first inning he seemed to be trying to use the lower arm slot, and his fastball had good movement but he had no command of his changeup and his curveball was breaking early and rolling through the strike zone, roughly equivalent to that of a pitcher struggling to make his high school team. After the Angels had scored 3 runs, he started throwing more over the top; his fastball got straighter and he still had little command of his changeup, but his curveball was back to being the late breaking 1 to 7 o'clock hammer. Thus, he pitched decently in innings 2-5, right up until Alex Cora proved that Jed Lowrie should be the starting shortstop.

So, to me, the change in his arm slot has given Buchholz a marginal improvement in his fastball, while destroying his command of the changeup and significantly worsening his curveball. By my impression, his curveball in the new arm slot is about a 35 on the scouting scale, while his curveball from over the top is a 60.

#33 OttoC


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:29 PM

In his last three starts (one before being sent down, two after recall), Buchholz has given up 2,2,3 first-inning runs.

#34 Sprowl


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:38 PM

I'd be really interested in seeing some disaggregated special effects for last night. The first inning he seemed to be trying to use the lower arm slot, and his fastball had good movement but he had no command of his changeup and his curveball was breaking early and rolling through the strike zone, roughly equivalent to that of a pitcher struggling to make his high school team. After the Angels had scored 3 runs, he started throwing more over the top; his fastball got straighter and he still had little command of his changeup, but his curveball was back to being the late breaking 1 to 7 o'clock hammer. Thus, he pitched decently in innings 2-5, right up until Alex Cora proved that Jed Lowrie should be the starting shortstop.

So, to me, the change in his arm slot has given Buchholz a marginal improvement in his fastball, while destroying his command of the changeup and significantly worsening his curveball. By my impression, his curveball in the new arm slot is about a 35 on the scouting scale, while his curveball from over the top is a 60.

Here are the PitchFX charts for Buchholz's first inning against the Angels. Pitchfx mislabels 7 changeups as sliders, but the 5 curveballs are correctly identified, I think: 2 balls, 2 fouls and Anderson's single to RF. None of those first inning curveballs dropped below the strike zone, so Buchholz is still having problems getting the curve down. Several curves from innings 2-5 did drop out of the strike zone, reflecting an improvement after the first. The release point data is quite variable, suggesting that Buchholz hasn't exactly mastered a new release point. The first inning seems to show a higher release, especially for the curve, while the later innings are somewhat more tightly clustered.

Two things jump out of the data: Buchholz got only one swinging strike all night (a changeup to Juan Rivera), and his fastball velocity is back down to the the 92 mph average we remember from his early season starts. I am inclined to think that Buchholz's 96 velocity from his prior start was not real, but the product of a poorly calibrated Pitchfx system at Fenway. Kotchman's double and Kendrick's liner to shortstop in the first inning both came on changeups, but other than those two events, the changeup seems to have produced mostly foul balls. If hitters don't swing at and miss Buchholz's pitches, he's having a very bad day, or his motion has been screwed up.

#35 wade boggs chicken dinner


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Posted 23 July 2008 - 01:14 PM

As it turns out, they didn't change the arm angle but they did tinker with his mechanics. Takeaway:

I feel my whole arm-angle situation has taken care of itself, he said. Its more consistent than it was. Now its just trying to repeat a delivery where I can throw to both sides of the plate on a consistent basis whenever I want. Whenever I need a pitch, I can throw a fastball away and get a strike on it, rather than leaving it over the middle.

I was leaning over, so my arm was really high. Now Im more upright and its not like the angle of my arm has changed; its my body.

The change in his release point has also forced some changes in Buchholzs approach. Because hes altered his mechanics, he now must account for different movement on his pitches, including his two-seam fastball.

In the past, he said, Ive been starting it and its only been moving a little bit. Now Im starting it in a different location for it to still be a strike.



#36 satyadaimoku


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Posted 23 July 2008 - 06:54 PM

It's tempting to call the 6th inning of today's game the moment Masterson passed Buchholz on the depth chart. I mean, Buchholz has a so-so outing against a pathetically weak lineup, showing his stuff with the strikeouts but falling behind and eventually allowing that two run HR by Vidro. He leaves two on with one out, and Masterson strikes out the last two batters and retires all 8 batters he faced today. Right now, Masterson just inspires much more confidence than Buchholz.

Clay will get plenty more chances, but I'm not at all satisfied with 7 hits and 2 walks in 5.1 innings against a lineup that plays Jose Vidro at DH and bats him cleanup.

#37 Manny's Hammies

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 08:03 PM

I think people need to go a little easier on Clay. Yes, he's been subpar for most of the season. Yes, he's been frustrating as hell to watch. But who would have thought even three months ago that Lester would turn into a strike-throwing, innings-eating machine? Sometimes, it takes time to get it together.

#38 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 23 July 2008 - 08:07 PM

I think people need to go a little easier on Clay. Yes, he's been subpar for most of the season. Yes, he's been frustrating as hell to watch. But who would have thought even three months ago that Lester would turn into a strike-throwing, innings-eating machine? Sometimes, it takes time to get it together.


This is a reasonable statement to make, of course. But the Red Sox may be in the position where they do not have time to wait for Buchholz to learn how to become effective. They are smack dab in the middle of an extremely tight divisional race; can they really allow Clay to work out his issues in the middle of it?

He was kinda hit or miss in today's game. Seattle's a terrible team, so it's hard to figure out how much importance to assign certain things. I like the 7 Ks; the 9 baserunners in 5.1 innings, not so much. I hated the batting practice fastball he threw Vidro to allow the game to be tied, but before that he was snapping off some good curves.

I'm not sure we learned much of anything today. Still the same issues as always, fastball command primarily.

#39 smastroyin


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Posted 23 July 2008 - 08:13 PM

Really? Masterson passes Buchholz on the depth chart now? Just last September based on a couple starts people were ready to have Buchholz passing everyone but Beckett on the depth chart and there was a serious movement here to burn Theo at the stake for not using Buchholz in the playoffs. Just two weeks ago the whole board was saying that Masterson was unfit for the majors because of his inability to get lefties out and his HR problem.

I know it's a discussion board, yadda yadda. But man haven't we learned anything, I mean *anything* from watching this team operate? If they make a decision it's not going to be based on a couple innings of Masterson mowing guys down following Clay who "struggled."

Hell, if Ichiro doesn't make the great catch to keep the game from getting out of hand I doubt we're even talking about Clay. The offense kept this game close by squandering opportunities early (plus that catch) which amplifies every mistake. Clay threw four or five bad pitches which isn't that bad. It's not great, and he left a couple of meatballs. I get that. But Clay's upside remains higher than anyone the Sox can likely acquire without giving him up.

#40 LondonSox


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Posted 24 July 2008 - 03:07 AM

To me Clay doesn't have the same curve as he did pre tinkerings. Not sure if everyone else agrees or thinks he's just had a couple of games with a bad feel for it.

The fastball seems to be improving a slider that seemed ok was mixed in and the change is still good, though not the plus plus of last year yet (esp in the minors and the no hitter).

That said most rookies need an adjustment period, Lester is a great example but there are a lot of others. The concern is if his stuff is affected and he needs to be working in low stress environments to get the curve and change back up and running.

What is clear is with the fastball, ccurve and change he's shown in the bigs that all are major league pitches, just only one time they were all on for one day.

He's a clear 5th starter right now and one who can win games and can make a leap at any time, he stays and pitches unless he needs tweaks and Colon is ready and pitching well or something. Not many teams have a cheap 5th started who is a prospect capable of a major jump.
Having masterson in the pen helps too, as per last night

#41 TomRicardo


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Posted 24 July 2008 - 07:27 AM

I don't think it is Buchholz's stuff as much as his mental make up. His stuff is sick. The only real bad pitch he threw was Vidro's HR. But after both HRs you saw Buchholz melt on the mound. In AAA, he is dominant because he is confident but in the majors he does not look confident. He begins to fall apart when things get tough.

#42 86spike


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Posted 29 July 2008 - 08:33 PM

sooooooo... how's Colon feeling?

#43 GreyisGone

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 08:56 PM

sooooooo... how's Colon feeling?

You have to leave Buchholz in the rotation. He won't develop in AAA as his stuff is too good for him to learn how to pitch there. Plus, he didn't pitch that bad tonight. He had HORRIBLE defense and then Hansen allowed both inherited runners to score.

#44 Foulkey Reese


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Posted 29 July 2008 - 08:59 PM

Buchholz wasn't great tonight, but he would have probably given up 2-3 less runs with Lugo playing short instead of Cora.

#45 yecul


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Posted 29 July 2008 - 09:00 PM

The actions of the organization are to ride their horses this year for better or worse. To me, that means 1. we shouldn't stress out about them making a big trade, 2. we shouldn't expect roster "optimization" (if such a thing exists, and 3. we should be happy about it because developing Buchholz is important for '09 success. Plus, 4. it's not like they still can't win.

#46 genoasalami

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 09:01 PM

You have to leave Buchholz in the rotation. He won't develop in AAA as his stuff is too good for him to learn how to pitch there. Plus, he didn't pitch that bad tonight. He had HORRIBLE defense and then Hansen allowed both inherited runners to score.



Agreed. He needs to develop a strong presence on the mound. He has too much of that "aw shucks, I am pitching in the major leagues" way about him. It should come with time.

#47 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 30 July 2008 - 07:33 AM

The actions of the organization are to ride their horses this year for better or worse. To me, that means 1. we shouldn't stress out about them making a big trade, 2. we shouldn't expect roster "optimization" (if such a thing exists, and 3. we should be happy about it because developing Buchholz is important for '09 success. Plus, 4. it's not like they still can't win.

How much development is he really doing though? He's been awful since being recalled from the minors. He's started 4 times since the recall and has been poor in all of them. He hasn't had a single start that might be considered even OK (no 6 IP, 3 R starts, for example).

I understand that he had wretched defense behind him tonight; Lowell and Cora did him no favors. He showed flashes of being effective at times. But there remain serious problems with his pitching. He could not pitch out of the stretch at all last night, he couldn't control any of his pitches for chunks of time, he couldn't keep the ball in the yard. The guy has not progressed much at all.

Sadly, the Sox lack any real options at this juncture. Colon is not ready to come back and there's really no one in Pawtucket I'd feel comfortable about recalling.

Buchholz' 2008 season has been a disaster; no one could possibly have expected him to be 2-6 with an ERA of nearly 6 at the end of July. His K rate is good, but his results are terrible and he's allowing hits at an extremely high rate. Maybe this mess of a year won't affect his future projections, and his results in the minors indicate that there's a good pitcher hiding in there somewhere, but I'd feel a helluva lot more confident about his chances if he didn't give every appearance of being on the Kevin Morton Career Path.

#48 Jimbodandy

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 07:42 AM

Sadly, the Sox lack any real options at this juncture. Colon is not ready to come back and there's really no one in Pawtucket I'd feel comfortable about recalling.


They have a guy in the bullpen who was a pretty good starter.

#49 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 30 July 2008 - 07:50 AM

They have a guy in the bullpen who was a pretty good starter.

I know, but moving him back into the rotation so soon after doing the work to convert him to relief probably won't do him much good in the long run. I'd rather they didn't jerk Masterson around in terms of role just yet.

#50 Foulkey Reese


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Posted 30 July 2008 - 07:54 AM

It's important to remember that the Sox defense wasn't just bad last night, it was absolutely horrific. Alex Cora almost single-handedly cost Buchholz 3 earned runs with his embarrassing defense. I'm not arguing that Buchholz didn't pitch poorly last night, but he could have easily had a 7IP 2-3 run outing the way he threw the ball.

Edited by Foulkey Reese, 30 July 2008 - 07:55 AM.