Saturday, August 08, 2009

What Happened to Buchholz's Curve Ball?

Where the hell is that nasty 12 to 6 curve ball Clay Buchholz threw in 2007?

It was a knee-buckling, deer in the headlights pitch that seems to have disappeared from his repetoire.

I don't get it at all.

I've watched him try to throw it only two times in this game to the Yankees. Once, he came extremely close to hitting A-Rod in the back of the shoulder. The second time, it was very high and out of the zone.

Is he being told to throw a slider--a form of a breaking pitch with a tighter rotation--by Red Sox pitching coaches? Are they concerned about his elbow and shoulder for the long haul of his career?

There is no doubt that his change up is a great out pitch, and he can throw it on demand in any count. He is showing that as much in this game against Carston Charles in the Bronx (C.C. has a one hitter through 6 innings right now).

I seem to recall Buchholz's no hitter back in 2007 had the curve ball prominently featured (and in other games since then), but not in 2009. I also seem to recall a fastball that was closer to 97. I guess a lot can happen in two seasons.

I know he has good stuff, and he needs more major league experience, but it seems to me that some his confidence in the curve ball (and many pitches) is lost--and confidence is something this pitching staff needs desperately.

With that said, Buchholz has been able to use the changeup and the splitter well today against the Yankees. Having only given up 1 run over 5 innings, Buchholz has mixed up his pitches smartly.

I guess I am saying that when you see something like a 12-6 curveball that can jar hitters with such force, you have to keep it and throw it.

Luckily, Buch will be staying with the major league club for the remainder of the season and his experience will grow and benefit from being around the always-confident Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon.

Speaking of Beckett, what a great outing he had in Friday night's 15-inning, 2-0 loss to the Yankees. I want to see this guy in another playoff game as soon as possible, but given how lifeless the Sox bats are right now (and the injuries to Bay, Dice-K, Wakefield and Lowrie, again), it's difficult to know right now if this team has what it takes to get there.