The discussion about how bad luck has affected Jon Lester so far this season sparked some thoughts about Clay Buchholz. We all know the story; the gangly righty threw a no-hitter as a rookie two years ago but ran into big-time trouble a year ago when he opened the season in the Red Sox rotation.
His final line for the season included a 2-9 record and a 6.75 ERA. If not for that disaster, he'd likely be pitching in the Red Sox rotation right now.
Instead, he's four starts into his season at Triple-A Pawtucket; he earned his first win of the season with 5 1/3 scoreless innings on Sunday, and he now has a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings pitched and has twice as many strikeouts as walks.
Confidence, clearly, has much to do with how the Red Sox are handling Buchholz. A couple of rough early outings -- he allowed seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium in mid-April -- messed badly with the young pitcher's psyche, and another disaster might finish off his self-belief for good.
But is another disaster likely?
No, it's not.
* Buchholz saw hitters hit .299 against him in his 76 innings pitched a year ago; his BAPIP (batting average on balls put in play) was .355. That's bound to come down.
* He struck out 71 and walked 40 in his 16 starts -- and that came after he struck out 98 and walked 30 in two Triple-A stints and struck out 134 and walked 23 in two Double-A stints. That's a promising ratio.
* He allowed 11 home runs in 76 innings pitched -- approximately a home run every seven innings -- despite allowing 24 home runs in 344 1/3 innings in the minor leagues. He's not a home-run-prone pitcher.
Buchholz had a really rough debut a year ago. A lot of that, though, had to do with bad breaks -- and when he gets another shot, likely later this season, he's got the law of averages on his side.