This is more of a “keep it in the back of your mind” thing, as the Red Sox say that their plans with respect to Clay Buchholz have not changed for the World Series. But Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that there is at least some question about Buchholz’s health at the moment:
While a source suggested there are some physical issues Buchholz is dealing with, there is presently nothing that the Red Sox anticipate will force an alteration to the team’s postseason rotation. Manager John Farrell, in outlining the rotation for the World Series, said that John Lackey will start Game 2 with Buchholz and Jake Peavy expected to pitch Games 3 and 4, with the order yet to be announced.
Obviously if he was suffering from some injury things would be different. As it is now, we can only note that Buchholz’s velocity has been down of late and that he has not been as dominant in the postseason as he was in the regular season. He’s allowed ten earned runs in 16.2 postseason innings so far, while striking out 15.
I sort of like the matchups for St. Louis at the moment, with Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha going 1-2 against Jon Lester and John Lackey. If Buchholz is at his best, the advantage swings back to Boston. If not, hmmmm.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.