Phillies: Finally, Buchholz and McClure Are Together Again

Sep 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
Sep 5, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure (right) talks with Phillies starting pitcher Adam Morgan (left) in the dugout during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure could be the key to the Phillies getting real value out of recently acquired starter Clay Buchholz.

The Phillies made a trade. A typical trade in the rebuild, acquiring a veteran who can help the team now, and in the future as a potential trade asset.

There’s been a trend of the Phils acquiring players with familiarity to GM Matt Klentak. Whether it’s acquiring players he’s seen from divisional rivals or from previous regimes in Baltimore or with the Angels, this has been a continued trend for Klentak and company.

Related Story: Phillies Now Have Starting Pitching Logjam

While Clay Buchholz falls into this category (pitched in AL east while Klentak/Macphail were in Baltimore), there’s more to this deal than the familiarity between Buchholz and the Phillies management, and that’s pitching coach Bob McClure.

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McClure was the pitching coach for the disaster 2012 Red Sox. And while that shouldn’t be something to brag about, he did have respect in the clubhouse, especially from the rotation. McClure was fired by the Red Sox on August 20th, and there was no Boston starter affected greater by the move than the recently acquired Buchholz.

Buchholz started the 2012 season horribly, much like the Red Sox. Through their first 27 games, the Red Sox were 11-16, in last place in the AL east, and Buchholz had a whopping 9.09 ERA through the stretch. However, this was Buchholz’s first action after making just 14 starts due to a stress fracture in his back the year before.

Suddenly for Buchholz, it all clicked. Over his next 107 innings of work (15 starts), Buchholz posted a 8-2 record with a 2.69 ERA, not to mention a 1.056 WHIP and a .227 average against. This stretch would last until August 16th for Buchholz, his last start before the Red Sox fired McClure.

Following McClure’s departure, Buchholz stated the following:

"“I knew that the team probably wanted to make a move just to make something happen, I don’t know …. I had a really good relationship with him. I talked to him every day and it was an odd move to me …. ”"

His numbers showed true to this relationship. On August 16th, Buchholz was 11-3, and had lowered his 9.09 ERA after his six starts, to a not-so-ugly 4.19 ERA. Under McClure, Buchholz had become Boston’s most dependable starter.

Related Story: Phillies Acquire Clay Buchholz

Buchholz would finish the season going 0-5 over his final eight starts, posting a 5.62 ERA, .277 BAA, and 1.463 WHIP. Obviously McClure meant something of significance to Buchholz, who had just turned 27 prior to the firing, and the numbers showed so.

Prior to McClure’s departure, the Red Sox were 59-63 (.484). After McClure was fired, Boston finished 10-30 (.250). Now, this was truly a disaster season for Boston, filled with multiple ups and downs (42-37 on July 1st, 69-93 at season’s end for example), so McClure wasn’t the “key to success” for the team.

However, he was still very much respected by a heavily under-performing staff as mentioned (during a well-documented struggle with manager Bobby Valentine)and even brought out the best in one (Buchholz) during his tenure.

Related Story: Phillies Not Confident In Nola's Health?

Maybe us in Philadelphia didn’t appreciate what we had in our city’s pitching coach until the national recognition began following the Phillies promising start to the 2016 season.

But after the surprising start, seeing the regained stability of Jeremy Hellickson, the progression of both Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez (plus Aaron Nola pre-injury), and some of the promising starts from young guys like Adam Morgan, Jake Thompson, and Alec Asher down the stretch, the people of Philadelphia surely appreciate our “Mad Scientist” more than ever.

So now that Buchholz and McClure are together again, what’s next? With the lack of durability Buchholz provides, no one knows. Buchholz has always been an all or nothing pitcher.

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  • However, after shaking off injury rust in 2012, he was phenomenal under McClure, and finished with a career high 189 innings pitched. In 2013 (without Valentine), he was arguably the best pitcher in the american league before neck injuries put his season on hold, but still finished with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts.

    He has mixed results the past three seasons, more good than bad, but overall mixed. His health is always a concern, and he’ll now carry the label of “salary dump” with him following his trade to the Phillies.

    But that shouldn’t care away Phillies fans. He’s a veteran with legitimate postseason success and championship experience. He’s been recognized for his change in delivery (with positive results down the stretch in 2016 to follow), and he very well could still be a pitcher on the rise.

    Buchholz is still just 32, and is pitching with the chance to earn big dollars following the season. In today’s market for pitching, he could very well demand a big money deal, qualifying offer, or even prospects via trade if he succeeds in his current situation with the Phillies.

    Next: Buchholz On Right Path

    A (good) situation for the Phillies in which finally, Clay Buchholz is reunited with Bob McClure.