It’s a hectic time for the shaping of the Red Sox. The team is currently in sell mode, with the possibility of dealing any number of key veterans such as Jon Lester and John Lackey.

Blake Swihart has 12 homers in Double-A Portland this year. (365digitalphotography.com)

Blake Swihart has 12 homers in Double-A Portland this year. (365digitalphotography.com)

It’s a hectic time for the shaping of the Red Sox. The team is currently in sell mode, with the possibility of dealing any number of key veterans such as Jon Lester and John Lackey. At the same time, the Sox are no doubt in the early stages of contemplating how they’re going to address some of their pressing needs for 2015, whether beefing up the middle of the order or identifying a starting pitcher who could serve as a replacement for Lester should he not be with the team in 2015.

That, in turn, has created scenarios in which the Sox could both sell (parting with players slated to reach free agency after this year) and buy (adding long-term assets). For instance, could a team that has an organizational commitment to limiting the risk associated with long-term deals let Lester walk (or trade him, as the case may be) rather than signing him to a five- or six-year deal at, say, $24 million a year, and instead seek to trade for a pitcher like Cole Hamels who is essentially Lester’s age (Hamels, 30, is less than a month older than Lester), but whose contract guarantee would count as just a four-year, $96 million commitment for luxury tax purposes? In essence, doing so would have the Sox acquiring prospects for Lester and trading other prospects away in order to avoid one or two years at roughly the same AAV that Hamels would be receiving.

The Sox would certainly appear to have the trade chips to acquire Hamels, certainly. As Jim Callis of MLB.com noted in this podcast (on whether WEEI.com and/or the baseball industry overrates Red Sox prospects), the Sox might have the best catching prospect (Blake Swihart), the best left-handed pitching prospect (Henry Owens) and the best second base prospect (Mookie Betts) in the game. That permits flexibility to strike a deal.

So would it make sense for the Sox to send out prospects — perhaps a package headlined by Swihart, at a time when Christian Vazquez has been extremely impressive — in order to acquire a Hamels and avoid going an extra year or two on Lester? To Callis, the answer is no.

“I’m the guy who keeps writing the line, and I always qualify this by saying I’m not saying Blake Swihart will be this, but Blake Swihart has the closest thing to Buster Posey‘s tools since Buster Posey,” Callis said, alluding to the Giants catcher and 2012 NL Most Valuable Player. “That’s a huge consideration. … You know what Jon Lester can do in Boston. You don’t have to worry about if there’s any adjustment there, though it’s not like Philadelphia is any cakewalk either. Cole Hamels has been a world champion as well. But I think, if my choices were giving Jon Lester an extra year at $24 million or I could have Cole Hamels for one less year but I had to give up Blake Swihart and other players, I’m signing Jon Lester. I don’t want to give up Blake Swihart.

“I know you want the flexibility because the team got in a bad way when it committed all the dollars to Crawford and Lackey was hurt, and they had no flexibility before the Dodgers bailed them out, but at the same time, if Blake Swihart, I’m not going to say he’s going to be Buster Posey. Let’s not even say he’ll be an All-Star — we’ll just say an above-average catcher, a guy who can hit .280 with 15 homers and be a solid defender. That’s a pretty good player. That is probably an All-Star.

“If Blake Swihart is doing that and you’re paying him $500,000 or close to it for two or three years, and you still get a discount when you’re paying him in arbitration, when you’re paying Cole Hamels or Jon Lester for that matter $24 million a year, really, I think, what you’re hoping for is that you break even. You’re not going to get a lot of excess value if you’re paying a pitcher $24 million a year. You might break even, but you’re not going to come out ahead. If I’m paying Blake Swihart $500,00 a year, I can come out way ahead.”

Callis said that he would put Swihart atop the list of the Red Sox prospects who are most difficult to trade.

“There never should be anyone [off limits] because you never know what kind of trade package you’ll get,” said Callis. “An obvious target would be somebody like Giancarlo Stanton. Say Stanton’s available. To me, the best prospect in the system is now Mookie Betts. But I’ve also got Dustin Pedroia signed long term at second base, I’ve got Sean Coyle and Wendell Rijo coming up behind him, and while I think Mookie Betts can be a good center fielder, I still believe in Jackie Bradley‘s on-base skills and I still think Jackie Bradley, in time, can be the best defensive center fielder in baseball. So to me, Mookie Betts would be expendable.

“If I were running the Red Sox, I’m making the final call, Marlins are on the line and they’ll trade Giancarlo Stanton, the guy who it would pain me to give up would be Blake Swihart. But you also have Christian Vazquez. Blake Swihart is arguably the best catching prospect in baseball. Christian Vazquez is in the top eight, 10, 15 catching prospects in baseball. So if Giancarlo Stanton is there and I have to part with Blake Swihart,” Callis paused to consider. “I would struggle with that. He would probably be the guy I would have the hardest time trading. That’s the hardest position to fill and he has a chance to be really, really good.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Garin Cecchini hit his fourth homer of the year on Monday. (AP)

Garin Cecchini hit his fourth homer of the year on Monday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

Garin Cecchini, amidst the worst offensive stretch of his career, enjoyed a positive glimmer on Monday, going 1-for-4 with a homer, his first of the month and his fourth of the year. Still, the struggles of Cecchini represent one of the foremost puzzles of 2014 in the Red Sox farm system. A player with a tremendous ability to catch the ball on his barrel and to shoot hits all over the field — while staying back and drawing enormous numbers of walks — has seen his season enter something of a spiral over the last two months.

On May 15, he had a pair of hits to improve his line to a .306 average, .400 OBP and .379 slugging mark. In 49 games since then, he’s hitting .200 with a .262 OBP and .289 slugging mark. And his struggles don’t simply reflect bad luck and a poor batting average on balls in play — Cecchini has 12 walks (6.2 percent walk rate) and 44 strikeouts (22.6 percent rate) during that span, marks that represent a considerable shift from his career norms.

In short, Cecchini — a consistently excellent performer during his professional career — finds himself in an unfamiliar place in Triple-A, with a .243 average, .321 OBP and .326 slugging mark on the year. Evaluators — both inside and outside the Red Sox system — continue to believe that Cecchini will hit, and perhaps the homer on Monday represents the beginning of a strong finishing stretch to his minor league season. But for the first time, Cecchini’s player development path now includes something other than a straight line ascent through the minors, likely delaying his eventual timetable for a regular role in the big leagues.

Travis Shaw went 1-for-4 while launching an eighth-inning homer, reaching a career milestone. Shaw now has 20 homers on the year between Double-A Portland (11 in 47 games) and Pawtucket (9 in 54 games), one of 29 players in the minors with 20-plus homers at this point. He thus surpassed his previous career-high of 19 homers achieved in 2012. Shaw is hitting .290/.347/.491 in Triple-A and .297/.374/.517 between the two levels.

Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. During his rehab assignments with the PawSox in July, he’s hitting .269/.315/.493 with four walks and 18 strikeouts.

Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-3 with a walk; he’s reached base multiple times in all three of his games since rejoining the PawSox. He’s 5-for-9 with a double and three walks with the PawSox.

Mookie Betts was Featless, going 0-for-4, ending his seven-game hitting streak.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-0 WIN VS. READING (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

Blake Swihart continues to cement his reputation as an elite prospect. The 22-year-old went 2-for-4 with his 12th homer of the year, and his fifth batting left-handed against a right-handed pitcher. The switch-hitter is now hitting .306/.358/.498 on the year, including .320/.379/.478 while hitting left-handed — a side of the plate from which he didn’t learn to hit until his sophomore year of high school.

– Right-hander Mike Augliera tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits (both singles), walking none and punching out four while recording 16 outs via groundball. Though the 24-year-old is 5-9 with a 5.03 ERA this year, his ability to get groundballs in bunches while throwing strikes (he’s walked just 1.3 per nine innings this year) creates the possibility of a Burke Badenhop-ish future in the big leagues.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: OFF DAY

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-0 LOSS AT HAGERSTOWN (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Outfielder Manuel Margot went 0-for-2 with a walk. He’s now walked in three straight games, continuing a year in which the 19-year-old has shown a continuation of the solid on-base skills that were on display for much of his 2013 campaign in Lowell. Margot has 32 walks and 42 strikeouts on the year, with the ability to negotiate walks — in tandem with his speed on the bases — suggesting that he has secondary skills that give him value even through cold offensive stretches. In July, for instance, Margot has a significantly below-average .215 average but a slightly below average .315 OBP with seven walks and 10 strikeouts in 18 games. On the year, he’s hitting .260 with a .333 OBP and .408 slugging mark along with eight homers, 27 extra-base hits and 32 stolen bases.

– Left-hander Daniel McGrath lasted just three innings — his second shortest outing of the year, and his shortest since his first start in Greenville on May 14) — allowing three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three. The outing snapped a streak of seven straight starts in which the 20-year-old had tossed five-plus innings.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 8-5 LOSS VS. BROOKLYN (METS)

(BOX)

– DH Sam Travis went 4-for-5 with a triple, the first four-hit game of his first pro summer. The 20-year-old masher, taken in the second round this year out of Indiana, is hitting .309/.344/.428 through 37 games.

– For the second time in his four games since a promotion from the GCL, Joseph Monge had a three-hit game, going 3-for-5 with a double. The 19-year-old is 7-for-19 (.368) in his four games since moving up, after hitting .266/.390/.453 in the GCL.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 2-0 WIN, 10-3 WIN AT GCL ORIOLES

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

– Center fielder Trenton Kemp went 2-for-4 with a double and homer, his first longball as a pro since signing with the Sox as a 15th-round pick. The 18-year-old is hitting .226/.293/.321.

Bryce Brentz went 0-for-3 with a walk. In seven games in the GCL since starting his rehab assignment, he’s 1-for-17 with two walks (one intentional) and four strikeouts.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 10-1 LOSS AT DSL GIANTS

(BOX)

Raiwinson Lameda had two of the Sox’ three hits in the game, including a double against a left-handed starter. The left-handed hitting Lameda, 18, is hitting an astounding .647/.700/.882 in 20 plate appearances against pitchers of the same handedness, and .299/.362/.444 overall.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Clay Buchholz's poor outing on Monday may have been in the Red Sox' long-term interests for a turnaround. (AP)

Clay Buchholz‘s poor outing on Monday may have been in the Red Sox‘ long-term interests for a turnaround. (AP)

The Red Sox’ run of eight wins in nine games proved a blip, quickly giving way to a crumbling stretch of five straight losses and now six in seven games, the latest a dismal 14-1 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays. The team has officially raised the “For Sale” flag, and at a time when the team is on pace for 73 games, given the pieces that could be moving in the coming days, there’s a very real chance that the team falls well short of even that.

Of course, there’s something to be said for just such a scenario. In some ways, the most direct path for the Red Sox to be good in 2015 may be the possibility of being wretched for the duration of 2014 — reprising a page from the late-2012 playbook that helped position the Sox for a title in 2013.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels joined Rob Bradford and Alex Speier on The Trade Deadline Show last Thursday to discuss the matter. (To hear the interview, go to the Trade Deadline Show audio on demand page.)

“On some level the rules are in place to create parity. Finishing at the bottom of the standings, we have a chance to do it this year,” Daniels said. “We certainly don’t want to, we weren’t designed that way. The system is set up that it’s an enormous advantage to finish last. It’s something we need to look at as an industry.

“We have an incentive to lose on some level and nobody wants to acknowledge that and nobody builds their team thinking to lose. In the NBA, you finish with the worst record, you’ll still have to go through the lottery. You’re not guaranteed to pick first. In baseball, not only do you get to pick first, but then you get a bigger draft budget for your pool so you actually get the access to the top player, but you also get the advantage of moving money around and more money to spend throughout the draft.

“Same thing on the international side. Plus you get the top waiver claim all winter and into the first month of next year and you get the top Rule 5 pick. Four or five times over you have an advantage in terms of acquiring players in almost every avenue except for trades and major league free agency.”

In fact, a team does have a meaningful advantage in major league free agency if it finishes near the bottom of the pile. The team’s with baseball’s 10 worst records have protected first-round draft picks, meaning that even if they sign a free agent who receives a one-year qualifying offer from their 2014 teams (a group that will likely include Max Scherzer, Hanley Ramirez and presumably slugger Nelson Cruz), they would retain their first-round pick.

That does influence strategies in the free agent market. For instance, the Orioles had no plans to sign Cruz this past offseason until they’d already given up their first-round pick by signing Ubaldo Jimenez. The team felt that Cruz was a talent worthy of sacrificing a second-round but not a first-round pick. This past offseason, the Mets adopted a more aggressive free agent strategy (headlined by the signing of Curtis Granderson) in part because their first-round pick was protected.

So, while Monday’s game offered a reminder that some bad baseball could lie ahead for the Red Sox, that could be a portent of more freedom to pursue a dramatic reversal of course by next year.

Alex Speier contributed to this report.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

According to industry sources, the Red Sox are considering broad-ranging possibilities between now and Thursday’s trade deadline. The expectation is that the team will sift through possibilities until sometime close to the trade deadline, but at least in theory, the team is willing to entertain virtually any scenario.

The Red Sox are entertaining trade conversations about both Jon Lester and John Lackey. (AP)

The Red Sox are entertaining trade conversations about both Jon Lester and John Lackey. (AP)

According to industry sources, the Red Sox are considering broad-ranging possibilities between now and Thursday’s trade deadline. The expectation is that the team will sift through possibilities until sometime close to the trade deadline, but at least in theory, the team is willing to entertain virtually any scenario. Specifically, as it relates to the team’s two rotation anchors – Jon Lester and John Lackey — the Sox, according to the sources, are willing to contemplate dealing one or both pitchers.

Of course, the team also is comfortable with the idea of retaining one or both if it doesn’t get the package it wants in return. Why?

Keeping Lester theoretically would allow for additional negotiating opportunities that wouldn’t exist if he was traded. And if Lester did end up leaving as a free agent, the value of a supplemental draft pick is not inconsiderable — particularly given that the associated money could help not only supply the Sox with an additional pick, but could also influence the caliber of other selections (players with signability concerns) whom the Sox could take.

As for Lackey, the fact that he is under team control for 2015 suggests that he could be an important part of the Sox’ rotation foundation going forward, particularly if Lester left.

So, the Sox’ negotiating position appears extremely fluid, with a number of scenarios to consider between now and Thursday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.

Also worth noting: At a time when the Sox recognize that the rest of the American League East has pulled away from them, the team is open to the idea of dealing Lester within the division. While there’s a prevailing never-say-never approach by the team to any trade scenarios, the Sox appear less inclined to consider dealing Lackey within the division given that he is under team control beyond this year.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
The Red Sox are considering the possibility of trading John Lackey. (AP)

The Red Sox are considering the possibility of trading John Lackey. (AP)

The Jon Lester rumors seemed self-explanatory: Command a trade ransom for an elite pitcher who will be a free agent for the next two months, and for whom another dozen starts have virtually no value to a spiraling Red Sox team but plenty of worth to a contending team trying to find the discover the difference between contention and the possibility of winning the World Series. Given where the Red Sox are in the standings, they *have* to listen to offers to Lester and any other free agent.

But the suggestion that the Red Sox are listening on veteran right-hander John Lackey represented a more surprising dimension in the rumor mill. After all, as Monday’s brutal outing by Clay Buchholz underscored, the Red Sox have exactly one pitcher under team control beyond this season who offers some measure of reliability.

Here’s what Lackey has done the last two years:

2013: 189 1/3 IP, 3.52 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9

2014: 137 1/3 IP (on pace for 210 IP), 3.60 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9

That’s a reliable rotation anchor. Lackey’s not an ace, but right now, he represents a solid No. 2 guy in the rotation, and thanks to the unique vesting option at the major league minimum for next year, he is under team control for next to nothing.

Naturally, there are indications that Lackey wouldn’t be thrilled about the idea of pitching for rookie wages next year. (“There will be a lot of things to consider,” Lackey said earlier this month about the idea of pitching under that option.) But Red Sox officials have said on multiple occasions that they’d be open to discussing an extension with Lackey (pure speculation: tag on an additional year beyond 2015 at the same $16.5 million average annual value of the five-year deal that he’s completing, thus resulting in a two-year, $17 million deal that makes both sides feel like they received some measure of fairness) that would satisfy all parties.

And while the Red Sox have a depth of potential big league-caliber starters, there are two issues with their promising corps of young starters:

1) It’s difficult to rely too heavily on too much youth. Case in point: The Red Sox’ 2014 lineup. Asking some combination of Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman and Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo (Henry Owens, scheduled to make what could be his last Double-A start today, is not expected to be a season-opening consideration for 2015) to fill three or four starting spots in next year’s rotation is a recipe for chaos given teh relative inexperience and lack of track record for the group.

2) It’s difficult to suggest that any of those pitchers has a high probability of matching Lackey’s performance — the combination of innings and effectiveness — in 2015. Reasonable expectations for any relatively unproven player would be integration into the rotation in a back-of-the-rotation capacity.

For that reason, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen acknowledged on WEEI’s Trade Deadline Show earlier this month that among the team’s long-term interests was the addition of veteran starters to complement the emerging potential rotation members.

“You’re always going to look at your rotation and the depth in your rotation. You can never have enough starting pitching,” said Hazen. “We’re probably looking at some degree of change and turnover at various points. You’re going to still look at that area of your starting pitching depth. … That stable of young pitching, we probably want to make sure that’s supported the right way. We’ll look in that area.”

It’s hard enough to figure out how the Red Sox might replace a front-of-the-rotation presence in Lester. The idea of replacing both Lester and Lackey is thus extremely complicated. That said, the Sox are at a point where they have to consider everything to position themselves for 2015 and beyond. If a team is willing to step up and offer a huge haul for a pitcher who would be available for multiple years, the Sox have to consider it.

As much as anything, the idea that the Red Sox are — according to industry sources — open to the idea of dealing Lackey and Lester underscores the complex situation they’re in. The team wants to be as good as possible for 2015, which requires some consideration of the possibility of smashing the club’s current veteran core to bits and figuring out ways of reconfiguring dramatically.

That won’t necessarily happen, but the idea that Lackey is now at least a consideration to be dealt speaks to the very uncertain shape of the Red Sox going forward.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

The Red Sox will look to bounce back from Monday’s disheartening 14-1 loss when they take on the Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series Tuesday at Fenway Park. Rubby De La Rosa will get the nod for Boston, facing off against fellow youngster Marcus Stroman.

De La Rosa (3-3, 3.54 ERA) has seen his season marked by one deciding variable: location. It is not a matter of the 25-year-old pitcher finding his command with his pitches, but rather where he is playing.

De La Rosa has looked like two different pitchers when taking the hill at Fenway Park or away from it this season. At home, De La Rosa has pitched like an ace, compiling a 3-0 record with a 1.38 ERA. On the road, De La Rosa is 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA.

De La Rosa’s last start Thursday against the Blue Jays — at Rogers Centre — was his worst outing of the season, as the righty allowed nine hits and seven runs (six earned) over just four innings of work.

“Clearly, he feels comfortable on the mound at Fenway and is able to channel the emotion and adrenaline inside Fenway Park,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ve got to do something to try and even out the splits as they stand.”

In three career games (one start) against the Blue Jays, De La Rosa is 0-1 with a 11.57 ERA.

Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA) may be the youngest member of Toronto’s starting rotation, but he certainly hasn’t shown any rookie nerves on the mound this season. Stroman is 6-2 with a 2.21 ERA in 10 starts this year, leading his club in WHIP (1.10) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.93).

Stroman turned in his best start of the season Thursday against the Red Sox, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning en route to an 8-0 Blue Jays victory. Stroman, who only allowed one hit and no earned runs in his outing, has not allowed a run in 14 straight innings.

“[Stroman's] pitching like a veteran who has been around a long time,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “He has the great arm, he has the pitches and all that, but the big thing about him is that he is a great competitor.”

Tuesday will be Stroman’s second career appearance against the Red Sox.

Blue Jays vs. De La Rosa (RHP)

Jose Bautista has one single in four plate appearances against De La Rosa.

Melky Cabrera (3 plate appearances): .500/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 RBI

Dan Johnson has one single in three plate appearances against De La Rosa.

Dioner Navarro has two singles and one walk in three plate appearances against De La Rosa.

Jose Reyes has one single in three plate appearances against De La Rosa.

Juan Francisco (2): 1.000/1.000/3.500, 1 triple, 1 home run

Ryan Goins has one double and one RBI in two plate appearances against De La Rosa.

Anthony Gose (2): .000/.000/.000

Munenori Kawasaki has one strikeout in two plate appearances against De La Rosa.

Red Sox vs. Stroman (RHP)

Brock Holt has three strikeouts in three plate appearances against Stroman.

Mike Napoli has one strikeout in three plate appearances against Stroman.

David Ortiz has one strikeout in three plate appearances against Stroman.

Shane Victorino has one single in three plate appearances against Stroman.

Xander Bogaerts has one strikeout in two plate appearances against Stroman.

Jackie Bradley has one walk in two plate appearances against Stroman.

Stephen Drew has one strikeout in two plate appearances against Stroman.

Daniel Nava (2): .000/.000/.000

Christian Vazquez (2): .000/.000/.000

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

A year ago on July 28, the Red Sox were 20 games above .500. They maintained a slim half-game lead in the AL East.

Fast forward to this season, and they occupy the cellar of the division and were just handed one of their worst defeats of the season, falling 14-1 to the Blue Jays.

It’s perplexing to try to account for what has gone wrong this season. But starter Clay Buchholz, who was tagged for seven runs in Monday night’s drubbing (the most he’s allowed this season), tried to offer up an explanation after the loss.

“[We] lost a handful of good players last year that contributed a lot,” Buchholz said. “Having [Jacoby] Ellsbury in center field, a threat to hit 30 home runs in a season, and [who] can obviously run when he gets on base, we don’t have every single factor that we had last year to go into our team.”

Buchholz assured that he wasn’t attempting to slight anyone on the current roster, however.

“I’m not saying anybody that’s on the field right now that wasn’t here last year or wasn’t starting last year isn’t as good, but when you take a couple of guys out of the middle of the lineup and the middle of the field, and try to rely on different people to do different things, it might not happen right away, and I think that’s what we’re dealing with,” Buchholz said.

“Even with that being said and going into spring training, even after the first half, I think everybody was still pretty confident that this team’s definitely good enough to play in October and through October.”

It’s become a reality that the Red Sox are very unlikely to reach October, as are 48-58, sitting 11 games back in the East. They trail the fourth-place Rays by four games.

The Red Sox have taken the position of sellers at the impending trading deadline, with rumors circulating about a number of players, including ace Jon Lester. Buchholz maintains that despite the uneasiness this time of year brings, it’s inevitable.

“I think when it comes to that, everybody thinks of it as a business,” Buchholz said. “There’s nothing you could do if you expressed your feelings any differently rather than just come to the field and try and win that day. Everybody hears about it, it’s everywhere that we’re at so obviously we know, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Buchholz is one of the few members of the Red Sox rotation whose name hasn’t been linked to speculation. There’s at least a slight possibility that by game time on Thursday, Buchholz could be the senior member of the Sox rotation. But his performance Monday night was not one that inspired confidence.

The righty was far from sharp, allowing seven runs on seven hits and four walks while fanning four. The string of solid starts he put together after his activation from the DL in late June are a thing of the past. He’s given up eight walks in his last 11 innings, and he’s been touched for four or more earned runs in each of his last three outings.

“Overall I felt pretty good with command, location … a couple of pitches that got hit and got a couple of ground balls that would have done us some good just out of reach of a couple of guys, they hit the pitches I missed,” Buchholz said of his start on Monday.

“I think he just didn’t have his fastball command tonight,” offered catcher David Ross. “Clay’s a very talented pitcher, he just had a bad night.”

But Buchholz has had a few “bad nights” this season. He’s been inconsistent, with streaks of effectiveness followed by a few bad outings. Overall, his 2014 numbers are ugly; he owns a 5.87 ERA and a 1.562 WHIP through 17 starts.

But when asked if it was somewhat of a lost year for him, Buchholz remained hopeful.

“I’ve got a lot of games left to pitch,” he said.

The Red Sox hope Buchholz can find some kind of consistency before the season is over, because he may be relied on heavily in the near future.

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison