Oh No! Clay Buchholz is Hurt

Last Friday before I attended Opening Day, I was reviewing Clay Buchholz’s start from the day before. He’d gone 5 innings, striking out 3 and walking 2 while allowing 8 hits and 4 runs. Obviously that’s not a great start. But the thing that really jumped out to me was his severely diminished velocity. His average fastball velocity was 90.2 mph, well below the 92.1 he averaged in 2015 and 2016. I wanted to write something about it, but hey, he was in and out of the bullpen last year, and last year his velocity was similarly low in his first start of the season. I figured I’d give him another start to see where his velocity was following that.

So imagine my delight when Buchholz came out hitting 91 with his first fastball of the night. Of course he walked the first hitter… then allowed a double…. then allowed a home run… then allowed several more runs… then got hurt.

All in all Buchholz lasted just 2.1 innings, striking out just 2 of the 16 hitters he faced while allowing 6 runs. He was pulled from the game due to a forearm strain and will undergo an MRI today to evaluate the damage. This early in the season, the Phillies have already lost their second-highest paid player for some amount of time.

However, referring to Buchholz by his salary disguises that he’s just not very good. It’s easy to squint and see a pitcher who posted a 2.68 FIP with a 17.8% K-BB just two years ago as an asset, but in reality he’s been a career 100 FIP- pitcher and the past two years, significantly worse than that. Despite the Phillies starting him in their third game, Buchholz is the fifth starter, and frankly, anyone from the minors could come up and allow 10 runs in 7.1 innings.

The Phillies traded very little to get him this offseason intending to trade him again in July should he prove that he’s a desirable pitcher to contenders. Buchholz has done nothing to raise his stock, and depending on the severity of his injury, he may not have much more of a chance. Most teams would stick with the highly paid veteran due to salary concerns, but for the most profitable team in baseball, I don’t think that’s much of an issue.  Maybe the Phillies will return Buchholz to the bullpen when he returns from injury. I hear the team is in need of a long man.

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  1. Steve D

    April 12, 2017 11:39 AM

    Yeah.. idk if he was feeling pain prior to yesterday’s game or what but it was meatball city… flat.. 90-91 mph fastballs are going to get hit HARD.. hope he can serve some use if he is healthy but if not, oh well.

  2. Mike Fassano

    April 12, 2017 12:41 PM

    Whether he was injured or not, I didn’t like what I saw all through Spring training. I suppose that the next up will be Eflin or Pivetta, and Garcia to take Morgan’s place.

    • Dante

      April 13, 2017 08:32 AM

      Eflin just came back from his injury and likely needs to get back up to speed first. I suspect Jake Thompson is the next call up (since he’s already had his clock started), but it could be Ben Lively as well – Lively doesn’t seem to have much more to prove in AAA.

  3. Romus

    April 12, 2017 02:44 PM

    Signing a questionable effective 2016 Buchholz vs a Charlie Morton coming off an injury may be a decision that the Mac/Klentak team may regret.
    Though in the grand scheme of things….. I would think signing either of them for the sole purpose of their chip value in July may be a moot point, since both would not bring back much in return.

    • Matt Winkelman

      April 12, 2017 04:07 PM

      Charlie Morton is on a two year deal, not a one year deal. His option was a mutual option so if he thought he could get more than that option (which he did) he could have turned it down.

      • Romus

        April 12, 2017 05:00 PM

        Not according to COTS…he was on a ‘club’ option.
        Charlie Morton rhp
        2 years/$14M (2017-18)
        2 years/$14M (2017-18)
        signed by Houston as a free agent 11/16/16
        17:$7M, 18:$7M
        annual performance bonuses: $0.625M each for 12, 20, 25, 30 starts
        3 years/$21M (2014-16), plus 2017 club option ….*************
        signed extension with Pittsburgh 12/11/13
        14:$4M, 15:$8M, 16:$8M, 17:$9.5M club option ($1M buyout)

      • Matt Winkelman

        April 12, 2017 05:59 PM

        – if traded, 2017 becomes mutual option (Morton forfeits buyout if he declines)

        became a mutual option when he was traded to Philly

      • Romus

        April 12, 2017 06:41 PM

        Yes saw that…but the Phillies and MacPhail/Klentak team were the ones who officially declined the option in November 2016 just after the official contract period ended for that championships season. They apparently did not want to entertain bring Charlie Morton back..

  4. Eddie

    April 12, 2017 05:15 PM

    This is not the worst thing that could happen. My fear when he was acquired was that he’d be a mediocre, 4.50 ERA shmoo, turning in one good start, one bad start, not so bad that you just release him, not so good that he actually has trade value, sucking up developmental time from the younger guys. Compared to that, injured is OK.

    Let the auditions start.

  5. Heartless Bastard

    April 12, 2017 10:48 PM

    Oh well. Now that Clay and Morgan are gone, that only leaves Jenmar, TJ, & Rupp to dispense of. Seen enough to say these guys are not major league starter material. Everyone else has shown enough to get further looks before a determination can be made. Excited to see what Efflin and Pivetta can do.

    • Michael Schickling

      April 13, 2017 07:51 AM

      Rupp was a league average starter last year. He definitely has a role. Tommy Jospeh hit 13% better than the league average last year. The average first baseman was only 8% better than league average. They both deserve more of a chance to prove themselves.

      • Junior Varsity

        April 13, 2017 03:43 PM

        Rupp is a terrible defensive catcher; perhaps the worst in the league. If TJ was still catching might give him more time, but he just isn’t a 13% better hitter than the league average over time much less 13% better than the average First Baseman. Seen enough, time to move on.

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