The Phillies add a veteran presence in their starting rotation by trading for Clay Buchholz. With the move to the National League, what should we expect?
The Philadelphia Phillies have been pretty active this offseason. The front office signed bench depth and traded for a second baseman. They also added two important pieces to the bullpen. Yet, I think the move they made Tuesday morning is the most important. The Phillies acquired starting pitcher Clay Buchholz from the Boston Red Sox. What can we expect from the 10-year veteran?
Before this trade, the Phillies would have entered the season with four pitchers under 30 years old and three 26 or under. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, having someone like Buchholz in the locker room can help the current group of pitchers. He has multiple seasons of great success and even playoff experience.
To my surprise, and maybe others, Buchholz hasn’t made more than 29 starts in any single season. He’s had seasons with good ratio stats, but his games played are low. In his 10 years, he has a 3.96 ERA, 1.303 WHIP and 81-61 record. He also has a 6.9 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
Buchholz split time between the rotation and the bullpen. He pitched in 37 games, but only started 21 of them last season. For the year, he posted a 4.78 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 8-10 record.
He posted the lowest K/9 of his career, 6/0, and highest BB/9 since 2008, 3.6.
Buchholz has been mostly a ground ball pitcher throughout his career, 46 percent or higher from 2008 to 2015, while his fly ball rate was in the mid to low 30s (except for 2011).
However, last year saw a buck in the trend. He had a 41.2 ground ball rate and 43.0 fly ball rate. His HR/FB rate was above 10 percent for the first time since 2012.
With his mid-90s fastball, he has been a pull pitcher, 44 percent of higher in the last three seasons. If he can maintain control of the fastball and use his off speed pitches, Buchholz should have success in the NL East.
And, with the way he finished the 2016 season, it could happen. Buchholz posted a 2.86 ERA across the last 44 innings. The NL East doesn’t have the best-hitting offenses. Three of the four division teams Buchholz and the Phillies will face finished in the bottom half in batting average and runs scored.
Buchholz will be a free agent at the end of the season. A good campaign in 2017 could get him another contract and continue his career. I think he will have a nice bounce back season with the Phillies. He’s a SP5 in deeper leagues and spot-starter in standard leagues.