Phillies acquire potential trading Chip in Clay Buchholz

<> during the second inning on May 14, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Phillies made a surprise trade this morning, acquiring right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox in exchange for minor league prospect Josh Tobias. The deal is far from blockbuster level and doesn’t have much of an impact on the baseball world as a whole, but is a very sneaky low-risk high reward move by the Phils.

Buchholz is a 2x all-star, but ran into some trouble last season. The Texas native went 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA in 21 starts for the Bo Sox.

Buchholz also made a career high 16 relief appearances this past season. Although his end of season numbers leave a lot to be desired, Buchholz did steadily improve throughout the year. Buchholz was absolutely crushed the first half of the season, allowing 53 runs and 83 hits in 80 ⅔ innings, which resulted in a putrid 5.91 ERA.

However, he seemed to settle down nicely after the all-star break. He was used as a relief pitcher more in the second half and performed admirably out of the pen. Buchholz finished the second half of the season with a 3.22 ERA and held batters to a fantastic .219 batting average. Buchholz finished what was already a stellar second half on an incredibly high note in his last 16 appearances. Buchholz made 8 starts and relief appearances each and and went 5-1 with a 2.80 ERA. He also held batters to an absurd .212 batting average over that span.

Although he could provide some solid production as a starter, Buchholz would be best served as a relief pitcher for the Phils. The Phillies already have a plethora of starting pitchers, as highlighted in my last article, and some of Buchholz’s numbers suggest he could thrive in that role.

Buchholz held batters to a .195 batting average as a relief pitcher, including a .232 batting average with men in scoring position. These numbers suggest that Buchholz has what it takes to pitch effectively in high stress situations.

With Buchholz serving as a relief pitcher out of the bullpen the Phillies would be able to continue to groom their young starting pitchers, instead of sending one down to the minors in favor of Buchholz. The Phils may well have acquired him to lock up right-handed batters at the end of games. Or maybe the front office acquired him with hopes that he could reclaim some of the magic that made him a 2x all-star. The Phils would have a very valuable trade chip come July if the latter happens.


Mandatory Photo credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images