Bedard vs. Buchholz

Starting pitcher Erik Bedard of the Seattle Mariners in action during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Bedard was traded to the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

At the trade deadline, the Red Sox acquired left-handed starter Erik Bedard. The next day, news broke that Clay Buchholz had a stress fracture in his back, making his return this season a long shot at best. For the remainder of the season Erik Bedard essentially replaces Clay Buchholz. With Erik Bedard making hi first start for Boston tomorrow night, let’s take a look at the difference between sixty two games of Clay Buhholz and sixty two games of Erik Bedard?

Numbers please!

Sixty two games will mean twelve starts for Bedard, assuming he does not pitch on short rest or skip any starts. He would likely pitch between 65 and 80 innings in those games. To this point in the season, he has pitched 91.1 innings and currently holds a 3.45 ERA and a 3.40 xFIP. In 82 innings with Boston this season, Clay Buchholz had a 3.48 ERA and a 4.15 xFIP. Fenway and Safeco field represent opposite ends of the park factors spectrum, however. Yet, as Matthew Kory pointed out already, Bedard has been better on the road this season that in pitcher-friendly Safeco.  Being left-handed in Fenway may not help Bedard either; he has limited experience here but has struggled in that small sampling.

Regardless, Bedard does an effective statistical impression of Clay Buchholz. Even with an elevation of Bedard’s home run rate, he could easily match Buchholz performance with a little luck. Buchholz holds a slight advantage in his groundball ratio. Bedard gets 41.1 % ground balls when the ball is in play, far worst than Buchholz’s 50.6%. Those ground balls help to make Buchholz a bit more predictable. That isn’t to say the Bedard is doomed in the cozy confines of Fenway. He is by no means an extreme flay ball pitcher.

His strike out ability compares favorably as does his and walk .In his career, Bedard has stuck our 8.75 batters per nine, miles above Buchholz’s 6.89 rate. His advantage in control is significant as well, walking 3.04 per nine rather than 3.72. Even if the combination of Fenway and the tough AL East competition hurts Bedard’s batting average on balls in play and ups his home run rate, he should be able to match Buchholz’s performance by fanning a few extra batters.

It is quite possible that Bedard will actually be better than Clay Buchholz, but if he is, it will not be by any wide margin. In securing a replacement last minute, the Red Sox have come across a mirror image. The sheer fact that Bedard is here because of an injury to Buchholz seals the deal. When the Red Sox lost Buchholz they lost a pitcher who has fantastic stuff, will be solidly above average at keeping runs of the board, and has struggled to avoid injuries. Who better to replace him than a left-handed pitcher who has fantastic stuff, will be solidly above average at keeping runs of the board, and has struggled to avoid injuries? Betting on Buchholz’s health is only slightly better than betting on Bedard’s.

Give Theo Epstein credit for addressing the loss of Buchholz as well as anyone could hope. If Bedard can stay healthy, the Red Sox should hardly miss a beat with their new lefty taking the mound every five days in Clay’s place. Should a near-miracle occur and Buchholz is able to return, this addition will be even bigger. A rotation featuring both pitchers would be a fantastic upgrade entering the post season.

Well played front office. Well played.

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