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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox‘ rotation has been steady the entire 2013 season, but they hope to get a big boost Tuesday night when Clay Buchholz returns to the mound.
Buchholz will make his first start since June 8 as the Sox open a three-game set against division rival Tampa. The right-hander started the season 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA, but was sidelined with shoulder pain. The team is hoping he can make four starts before the postseason, giving them another front-line starter to go with the surging Jon Lester.
The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Monday night, and said the biggest thing for Buccholz will be the starter’s command.
“It’s a big unknown given how his rehab starts went,” MacPherson said. “But you want him to be able to command his pitches; he has the most diverse pitch-mix than anyone else in the rotation. A lot of times he can jump back in and command really well, but he has to come in and command those pitches not be a liability.”
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“There is a chance he could be a liability; he could be a guy that comes in and walks four guys in 3 2/3 because he’s rusty,” he said. “If he can come in and command, he has the pitch-mix to be dominant again. The feel for his pitches is going to be the big thing.”
MacPherson also touched on the impact of losing Jacoby Ellsbury, who is sidelined with a non-displaced compression fracture in his right foot. The hope is Ellsbury will only miss a week or two, and will be back in the lineup by the end of the regular season. Until then though, MacPherson says the Boston lineup should be OK.
“If there is a lineup set up to absorb that sort of injury, it’s this sort of Red Sox lineup,” he said. “You’ve got guys you can move up into that part of the order; if you want to bat Shane Victorino lead off you can do that. You can move up Stephen Drew and bat him second. He’s a guy that’s been productive and he doesn’t have to be your eight-hitter. Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava have been good in the two-hole. There are guys that can still get on base, work counts and make pitcher’s lives difficult. Even if you don’t have Ellsbury, that’s a benefit to having a deep lineup.”
For now, Jackie Bradley Jr. will take over for Ellsbury in center. What can we expect from the rookie after a tough go in the Majors to begin the season?
“What you want from his is his defense,” said MacPherson. “You know he can play big-league caliber defense and has a good solid plate approach. You’re not expecting him to hit .300, but he becomes your nine-hitter.”
What will the Red Sox rotation look like if Buchholz is healthy and effective? And who should John Farrell turn to for the 8th inning? Find out what Brian MacPherson thinks on The Adam Jones Show: