The righty spent a decade with the organization, and he gave folks in Boston plenty to remember.
The two-time All-Star had a very unique career, and today, we’re going to look back on it.
Although Buchholz played for a few different teams near the end of his career, we’re merely going to focus on his time with the Red Sox in this article.
Let’s get started.
Buchholz Broke Into The Big Leagues By Throwing A No-Hitter In His Second Start
Buchholz entered the big leagues with a bang.
In his second career start, he tossed a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles.
13 years ago, Clay Buchholz tossed a no-hitter in just his 2nd career start.
The final pitch was nasty. pic.twitter.com/iaRwAcSHcr
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) September 1, 2020
It was a dominant outing for Buchholz, whose final line looked like this: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K.
Needless to say, this was a night that Red Sox fans haven’t forgotten.
It remains one of the most memorable pitching performances in franchise history.
It was a fitting way for Buchholz to enter the league in the sense that the no-hitter felt very random, which is a fair word to use when talking about his career on the whole.
He Was Wildly Inconsistent On A Year-To-Year Basis
You never knew what you were going to get from Buchholz.
He was capable of pitching like a Cy Young candidate one year and a DFA candidate the next.
Check out his ERAs by year:
- 2007: 1.59 ERA in 4 G, 3 GS
- 2008: 6.75 ERA in 16 G, 15 GS
- 2009: 4.21 ERA in 16 G, 16 GS
- 2010: 2.33 ERA in 28 G, 28 GS
- 2011: 3.48 ERA in 14 G, 14 GS
- 2012: 4.56 ERA in 29 G, 29 GS
- 2013: 1.74 ERA in 16 G, 16 GS
- 2014: 5.34 ERA in 28 G, 28 GS
- 2015: 3.26 ERA in 18 G, 18 GS
- 2016: 4.78 ERA in 37 G, 21 GS
For the most part, Buchholz was pretty good in odd years and pretty bad in even years.
That was surely just a coincidence, but it’s truly crazy how unpredictable he was on a year-to-year basis.
He Had Some Outstanding Seasons Tainted By Injuries
Health issues always seemed to stand between Buchholz and a stellar year.
For instance, in 2011, he had a 3.48 ERA over 14 starts before he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back.
The injury kept him out for the remainder of the season.
Then, in 2013, Buchholz was working on an all-time great season before the injury bug bit him again.
He had a minuscule 1.71 ERA, 2.47 FIP, and .535 opponent OPS over 12 starts prior to a neck injury.
On the bright side, this injury wasn’t season-ending.
He was able to make four more starts before the regular season ended, and he finished with an impressive 1.74 ERA.
Unfortunately, he didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
It could have been a historic year for him, but the baseball gods said otherwise.
2013 wasn’t the last time an injury derailed one of Buchholz’s best seasons, either.
It happened again in 2015.
That year, he managed a 3.26 ERA, 2.68 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP over 18 starts before he went on the shelf in July with a season-ending elbow injury.
Red Sox announce RHP Clay Buchholz elbow injury is worse than expected; won't return this season.
— . (@DanJonesRSN) August 28, 2015
The big takeaway here?
Buchholz was certainly capable of throwing the ball at a high level, but more often than not, something got in the way.
Despite His Odd Career, Buchholz Will Forever Be A World Series Champ
We just talked about Buchholz’s quirky 2013 season, but we left out one small detail: He helped the Red Sox win a World Series title that year.
After returning from his neck injury, he made four starts in September, then he proceeded to pitch in the playoffs.
He ended up making four postseason starts, pitching to a 4.35 ERA in those games.
Boston went 3-1 in his four outings, and the team ultimately won the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals in six games.
Although Buchholz’s career had its fair share of frustrations, he’ll always be able to say that he accomplished the ultimate goal of winning a World Series title.
He earned that, and there’s no taking it away from him.