|photo credit: jeffcutler via photopin cc|
With a fastball sitting in the 91-92 range for much of the night and hitting 93 on occasion Buchholz was not showing any signs of injury or fatigue. He threw 44 pitches for strikes in the game or 59 percent strikes. That was off a bit as he's usually in the 60's. There did appear to be some control issues with the fastball, but the speed and movement was good.
Facing a solid Rays lineup who rank in the top ten in the majors for strikeouts per at bat Buchholz was able to strikeout six batters in the five innings pitched. Since 2008 Buchholz has never had a strikeout per nine inning rate over 7. This season he was on his way to his best K/9 at 8.64 and last night would continue that.
Clay has been a solid pitcher who counts on a solid ground ball rate, but adding in an ability to strikeout nearly a batter per inning could make him that ace pitcher the Red Sox need. His health is the one skill he now needs to prove.
Koji Uehara Continues to Rack Up Innings
The Red Sox seem to have thrown caution to the wind with closer Koji Uehara who now is not only closing after the team reluctantly turned to him for that job, but often completing the four out save. Uehara has now reached 65 2/3 innings this season and is only a third of an inning from his career high of 66 innings he set back in 2009 with the Orioles in his first year in the States.
Uehara has now reached 65 innings or more for the third time and only in odd seasons (2009, 2011 and 2013) Each following season his innings have dropped as he might have issues dealing with that work load. Something the Red Sox should consider as his one year deal will be up and at age 38 it's highly unlikely he returns to the Red Sox.
Obviously the Red Sox are trying to forget what happened in 2011 and not admitting the playoffs are a lock, but starting to limit Uehara and keep him fresh for the playoffs should be the objective of these games. On the other hand Uehara hasn't given up a hit since 8/17 a total of 31 hitters and has been the best reliever in baseball this season according to fWAR. This might even be the best reliever season in Red Sox history. Currently Jonathon Papelbon has the best fWAR in 2006 of 3.4, but before Tuesday night Uehara was at 2.8.