Clay Buchholz is throwing in the low-90s consistently. His curveball looked plenty good today. He’s been inconsistent with his changeup, but that hardly explains the 9.09 ERA.
Buchholz gave up five more runs in 3 2/3 innings Sunday in a no-decision in what ended up being a 17-inning loss to the Orioles. He’s allowed at least five runs in all six of his outings this season. The three homers he surrendered today brought his season total to 10 in 32 2/3 innings. That’s one more than he allowed in 173 2/3 innings while winning 17 games for the Red Sox in 2010.
Obviously, Buchholz’s command has been an issue. Four more walks today brought his season total to 19. Still, even more than that, it seems like a lack of confidence is his biggest problem.
Questions about his mental toughness dogged Buchholz as he initially struggled to establish himself in Boston. He made such oddly timed pickoff throws to first and sometimes just seemed to shrink on the mound during his first three years before his breakthrough campaign two seasons ago. He hasn’t gotten himself back into some of those odd habits, but there’s certainly been some indecisiveness on the mound during his six starts this year.
For all of his struggles, Buchholz hasn’t really hurt the Red Sox yet. The team is 3-3 with him on the mound (compared to 8-13 the rest of the time) and two of the losses came in extra innings. Still, the club can’t run him out there with a 9.00 ERA for too much longer. If he’s not better next time out, the Red Sox may have to option him to Triple-A and give Andrew Miller or someone else a crack at his rotation spot. They might actually need to do it now after exhausting their bullpen Sunday.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.