This could be it for the Boston Red Sox longest-tenured pitcher
Junichi Tazawa, currently on the 15-day Disabled List, could be activated as early as Thursday. The consequence of the move could spark the end of Clay Buchholz’ Red Sox career.
Tazawa has been a steady bullpen arm for Boston these past five seasons (3.08 ERA in 275 games) and when he is not overworked, he has been an asset to the team. The Red Sox will need to clear a spot for him on the 25-man roster when he comes back. And the simple solution at this point would be designating Buchholz for assignment.
Right now, the Red Sox are nearly set. They have a five-man rotation, a four-man bench and two left-handed relievers. They like what they have, so ditching Buchholz looks like their best move.
Heath Hembree is in the midst of an option year, but it would be sinful to send him down given his 1.96 ERA in 24 outings and his willingness to throw more than one inning at a time.
Matt Barnes has options remaining but is not in an option year, nor has he done anything lately to warrant being sent down. A 3.07 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 44 innings seems like a big leaguer.
Despite not throwing well for much of the season, Koji Uehara has taken hold of Craig Kimbrel’s closing job and he’s throwing well. And why shouldn’t he be? He likes closing better. DFA’ing him would mean losing him outright and the Red Sox aren’t really in a position where they can afford to lose out on pitching depth.
Buchholz is 3-9 with a 5.91 ERA in 18 outings this season (13 starts). While he hasn’t been a bad long man for the Red Sox, preserving his spot on the team when he pitched so poorly in the early innings of games cannot be a priority. And Buchholz knows it.
After all, he has blown a lot of his chances when the Red Sox have given him opportunities to start games.
The Red also need a few open spots on the 40-man roster with five men on the 60-day Disabled List, most notably Blake Swihart.