It is so easy to lose sight of the idea that when Clay Buchholz is on — when he is really on — he is arguably one of the top 10 pitchers in the game.
Take that stretch right before his season ended last year. Six wins, two losses, four earned runs over his final fives starts. Roughly 7.79 strikeouts per nine over his final month. Seven walks issued in his last eight starts combined.
Or the infamous Bullfrog season in 2013, during which he went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA but pitched only 108 innings.
But those stretches are limited in their run. Either injury or inconsistency cloud the full picture.
Entering his Age 31 season, both time and history would seem to be against him.
The beefed-up bullpen, with the built-in capability to take a game over in the sixth – or even the fifth – inning, allows Buchholz favorable circumstances entering the year.
Buchholz in smaller doses means fewer pitches and less likelihood of injury.
Add to that the much-improved outfield defense and the lessened pressure in the starting rotation by the addition of David Price, the expected continued progression of Eduardo Rodriguez, and the hopefully-hitting-his-stride Rick Porcello.
The factors are there to at least allow for the idea of a successful Clay campaign.
And if he is on in the way he’s found for stretches in the past, this Red Sox starting rotation could be genuinely lethal to opposing lineups.
Time, as always, will tell.