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Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: CLAY BUCHHOLZ SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Count longtime veteran starter Clay Buchholz as another member of the pitching "reinvention" club as the 2014-17 punching bag turned in what can only be described as a surprisingly very good 98.1 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.  Things didn't start off so hot in 2018 for Buchholz however as he was forced to accept a minor league deal with Kansas City as a last resort effort to hang around in the majors and even that failed as he got his release on May 1st after the rebuilding Royals decided they had no use for him.  It was when Buchholz signed a minor league pact with the Arizona Diamondbacks soon after his Royals release that the statistical planets aligned for the righty as he shockingly pitched to a splendid 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a .217 BAA.  Buchholz pitched so well and so in control (2.01 BB/9) that is hard to even believe this was the same pitcher who almost nobody wanted to even look at prior to the start of the 2018 season.  Having previously lost his strikeout ability (pathetic K/9 rates under 7.00 in three of his previous four MLB campaigns), Buchholz made it a point to rely more on his offspeed stuff and pitch to contact at a higher rate than ever before with Arizona.  Things obviously worked out for the better as Buchholz actually became a big mid-season add in fantasy baseball leagues given his string of dominant outings during the summer before the fun ended in mid-September due to a strained elbow.  Now it does need to be noted that Buchholz' .255 BABIP was well into the lucky range but even his FIP (3.40) and XIP (4.00) ERA's were very good to decent enough respectively.  We worry more about Buchholz' very small margin for error going forward due to the fact his average fastball velocity sank to a career-worst 90.7 last season despite all his positive results.  Thus, it is imperative Buchholz continue down his pitching-to-contact path and that old home run troubles don't resurface.  Finally, considering his age (35 this August) and increased propensity for getting injured, Buchholz should only be graded as an SP 5 for fantasy baseball purposes in 2019.  While it was a fun story last season, we suggest you not go out of your way hoping for an encore.
2019 PROJECTION:  9-7 3.97 ERA 1.22 WHIP 143 K 

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