The key for a great pitcher, or at least a great season for a pitcher, is consistency.
Arm motion, release points, and mechanics in general that can be repeated over and over, pitch by pitch, inning by inning, game by game leads to greatness. Boston's Clay Buchholz is on the verge...again.
Clay has had good streaks before, as recently as last season.
In 11 starts from May 27 to August 10, he was brilliant
Over that time period, Buchholz started 11 games, he went 6-1 and a very bad Sox team went 8-3. He threw 82.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.08, a BAA of .204, and struck out 59 while walking just 15.
So far this season, Buchholz has been even better
He has started 11 games and gone 8-0 and the team is 10-1 in his starts. He's thrown 77.2 innings and has a sparkling ERA of 1.62, a BAA of .190, and struck out 77 while walking 28.
The cutter is the key
Buchholz primarily throws four pitches: fastball, cutter, curve, and change, and occasional splitter.
But when Buchholz is throwing his cutter well, everything is working as it particularly helps his fastball.
5/27 to 8/10/2012
- Total pitches thrown 1148
- Fastball 46.1% - .227 BAA
- Cutter 19.1% - .155 BAA
2013 to date
- Total pitches thrown 1141
- Fastball 48.4% - .209 BAA
- Cutter 22.4% - .117 BAA
Frame of Reference
Before the 2012 hot streak
3/28 to 5/26/2012
- Total pitches thrown 864
- Fastball 45.8% - .337 BAA
- Cutter 21.3% - .333 BAA
As you can see, when Buchholz lets that cutter drift up and into the zone, the pitch loses its effectiveness. And when the cutter drifts, the fastball looks very similar and there for easier to hit.
The Sox just delayed a Buchholz turn on the mound and it will be interesting to see if they give him additional days in between starts as the summer wears on. If consistency is key, the slight Buchholz must battle the fatigue that causes inconsistency.
However, if Clay Buchholz continus to do what he has been doing thus far this season, not only will he be the presumptive Cy Young Award winner, but he will lead the Red Sox back to the postseason promised land. He's on the verge.