Clay Buchholz needs to repeat delivery consistently, knows he needs to be better

Jim Rogash

Manager John Farrell says that righty Clay Buchholz has several issues to work through to get back to the form that made him one of the top pitchers in baseball during the first half of the 2013 season.

BOSTON -- The Red Sox need to get righty Clay Buchholz going again soon for the greater success of the pitching rotation. The righty has been ineffective this season, and has been the weakest point in the rotation halfway through May. Through his first nine starts, Buchholz has given up more than four earned runs on four occasions and has only pitched seven innings once this season.

After another lackluster start from Buchholz Wednesday night, manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves studied video on the righty to try to diagnose the 29-year-old's issues.

"[Clay]'s not repeating his delivery right now," Farrell said. "He's making mistakes and he's been up in the strike zone and he's been in the middle of the plate and last night, more than we've seen this season, he pitched behind in the count a lot and that's from lack of repeating his delivery as much as needed."

Farrell says that Buchholz has not complained about any ailments and has not had any restrictions physically.

"He's not in the most confident state as we've seen," Farrell said. "If we look at right now compared to this point last year, there are some differences and gradually, pitch by pitch, not to be cliche, but pitch by pitch, we have to rebuild that confidence."

Buchholz, who is 2-4 with a 6.32 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, .341 batting average against, and has struck out just 35 in 47 innings pitched, has struggled through periods of similar ineffectiveness in 2008 and the early part of the 2012 season. In 2008, Buchholz posted a 6.75 ERA with a 1.763 WHIP and a .299 BAA in 16 starts. Through the end of May in 2012, Buchholz posted a 7.19 ERA with a 1.83 WHIP and a .328 BAA.

While addressing Buchholz's 2008 struggles, Farrell said the righty has significantly altered his pitching style and approach on the mound.

"He was a fly ball strike out pitcher," Farrell said. "He evolved into more of a ground ball and the ground ball rates bear that out. He became a much different pitcher through some physical adjustments to his delivery. The increase use of his two-seamer, the further development of his cutter. There were a number of things that took place at that time. Just from a delivery standpoint, it's not a makeover like he went through at that point, but there are some adjustments that are needed."

Farrell hopes to see Buchholz increase the effectiveness of his offspeed offerings.

"What we're striving for is one of the two, curveball or changeup to create some velocity or separation and disrupt timing," Farrell said. "Right now, when he's pressed to make a pitch, he has gone to a pitch that has been hard in velocity, whether it's his fastball or cutter. We've got to get back to the point to change speeds more consistently, and for strikes, not just to throw it for the sake of throwing it."

"[Clay] knows he's better," Farrell said. "He's disappointed in what's taken place so far. There have been glimpses or individual games where it's been more Clay-like, but he knows that he's got to improve"

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