Philadelphia Phillies: Clay Buchholz Finds Himself in Familiar Territory

Clay Buchholz is no stranger to injuries and disappointing performances. He experienced both last night in his second outing for the Philadelphia Phillies.

After spending the first decade of his major league career with the Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz received a fresh start with his offseason trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. Though he earned two All-Star appearances and a World Series ring during his time in Boston, the right-hander really needed the change of scenery.

Buchholz was coming off a forgettable 2016 season in which he posted a 4.78 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 1.69 K/BB ratio over 139.1 innings. His poor performance ticketed him from the rotation to the bullpen in late May, and 16 of his 37 appearances last year came in relief.

Injuries have also dogged Buchholz over the past several seasons. With his contract coming to an end in 2017, the 32-year-old could really use a bounce-back campaign to help him earn a new deal next winter. Perhaps a move to the Phillies and the National League would assist him in getting there.

So far, not so good. Buchholz has made two starts for the Phils in this fledgling season and neither has been anything to write home about. Last night’s thrashing at the hands of the Mets was particularly rough. Buchholz lasted just 2.1 innings before being removed with an apparent injury.

Before making his exit, Buchholz allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Three of those runs came in the first inning on the first of Yoenis Cespedes‘ three home runs. It was an ugly showing any way you looked at it, injury on top of insult. The Phillies went on to lose the game 14-4, dropping them to 3-5 on the young season. Buchholz now owns a 12.27 ERA and has surrendered 16 hits in 7.1 frames.

According to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, Buchholz will undergo an MRI today for a suspected flexor tendon strain in his right elbow. He will almost certainly head to the disabled list. The test results will give the team a better idea as to the severity of the injury and how long the righty will be out of commission.

While things could still turn around, this obviously isn’t how the Phils or Buchholz wanted to start their year together. As Salisbury points out, from the moment Philadelphia acquired him, Buchholz was seen as a potential midseason trade candidate. He’ll have to prove he’s healthy and can pitch effectively by this summer’s trade deadline to make that a reality.

However, if this injury ends up taking out a significant chunk of Buchholz’s first half, it would be a massive blow to those plans. The Phillies know they have Buchholz for one season, and they want to maximize his value in that time span, whether pitching for their club or netting them a couple more prospects on the trade market.

Fortunately for Philadelphia, they have a variety of young hurlers at Triple-A who can come up and fill in for Buchholz for however long he’s sidelined. Salisbury says they will choose from their 40-man roster, which includes Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively.

In the meantime, the Phils will hope that Buchholz can return sooner rather than later and get himself straightened out on the mound. They will look to salvage the final matchup of their three-game series against the Mets tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Vince Velasquez and Zack Wheeler take the hill for their respective clubs.

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