|Why Franklin Morales and not Clay Buchholz is starting on Sunday||06.16.12 at 7:03 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Once the Red Sox realized that Josh Beckett could not make his start due to right shoulder inflammation, the team had a clear ideal fallback plan. Clay Buchholz, manager Bobby Valentine said, was “Plan 1.”
But Buchholz is coming off an outing on June 7 in which he threw 125 pitches in a complete-game and a seven-inning, one-run yield on Tuesday in which he logged another 103 pitches. That being the case, Valentine said that Buchholz felt that, rather than pitching on four days of rest on Sunday, he would be better off pitching the opener of a three-game set in Boston on Tuesday against Miami.
“[Having Buchholz start on Sunday] was plan one but Clay felt he needed the extra days,” said Valentine. “He pitched the complete game where he had the 120 and then he pitched the 100-pitch game where he was in it the entire game. It’s that time of the season where guys can get a blow if they can work it in and I totally understand that.”
Buchholz has made seven starts this year on four days of rest, going 5-1 with a 4.95 ERA; in five starts on five days of rest, he is 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA.
The Sox had stretched out Morales in recent weeks to prepare for a contingency like the one created by Beckett’s trip to the disabled list. Though Morales has not made a start since 2009, he pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings on June 3 and then three perfect innings on June 9.
“He’s pitched multiple innings and he’s pitched ahead in the count with quality stuff. He’s pitched ahead in the count with quality stuff. We’ll see if he can’t give us multiple innings again with pitching ahead in the count and quality stuff,” said Valentine. “[The number of innings he can throw] depends on pitches per inning. I think he can pitch more than five. Then we have the off day with a stacked bullpen. Whatever he gives us should be fine.”
For his part, Morales said that he would take the same mentality to starting that he has been applying to his relief work. In 15 career starts, he has a 5-4 record and 4.46 ERA along with 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings (compared to a 4.41 ERA and 8.3 strikeouts per nine as a reliever), but the 26-year-old said that he feels like he’s a different pitcher now than he was in 2009.
“I tried to do too much before. Right now, I know I have my stuff,” said Morales, who cited his command and consistency, particularly with his off-speed stuff, as differences now compared to when he was a 23-year-old.
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