D-backs starter Clay Buchholz getting the most out of his command

Jun 13, 2018, 2:25 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Buchholz throws during the first inning of the team's baseball ga...
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Buchholz throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

When starting pitcher Robbie Ray went down in mid-April, the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation had a big void to fill with very few options.

Enter veteran 33-year-old, two-time All-Star Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz inked a minor league contract with the D-backs in early May and — before Tuesday night’s four-inning, five-run snafu — has shined giving up just five runs in 24 innings of work over his first four starts.

“The game is getting younger each year,” Buchholz told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley and Marotta on Wednesday. “That’s pressing the 33-, 34-year-old guys out of the game.”

Buchholz has been an exception so far this season.

Only one team in the MLB has an average age over 30 years old, the Tornoto Blue Jays. The D-backs average age is fourth-highest in the league at 29.2.

He has been able to adjust his game since joining the D-backs, finding new ways to adjust for his age and injury history.

According to Fan Graphs, Buchholz average fastball velocity has dropped by three mph since 2011 while simultaneously his fastball usage rate has dropped from 54.4 percent in 2009 to 41.5 percent in 2018.

“If you can command multiple pitches on both sides of the plate you can get guys out because they will have to swing if they are behind in the count,” Buchholz said. “I was doing a good job of commanding the zone and getting balls to cut and sink to both sides of the plate.”

After 10 years with the Boston Red Sox, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017. It was a short-lived stint after an injury forced him into surgery to repair a tendon in his right forearm.

He began 2018 with the Kansas City Royals but was released on May 1.

Two weeks after signing with the D-backs and after two starts with the Triple-A Reno Aces, Buchholz burst back into the bigs with a five-inning, one-run performance against the New York Mets on May 20.

Buchholz has five starts on the season including three quality starts and sports a 23:5 K:BB ratio. His next scheduled start is June 17 against a familiar opponent, the Mets.

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