Dominant baseball teams have an ace on their pitching staff. As of now, and for the past few seasons, the Red Sox have not had a pitcher that they can definitively consider their ace.
But what they do have are a few pitchers who have the ability to be an ace, or have been an ace in their past in Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.
To me, Buchholz has the most talent of the three and needs to step up and be the Red Sox ace that’s been missing the past few years for the Red Sox to be a serious American League contender.
With the exception of his last start, Buchholz of late has pitched like he’s the ace of the Red Sox staff. Prior to Wednesday night, in his last six starts he has gone at least seven innings and allowed three runs or less in all six of those starts. That’s ace like stuff.
"I've been going out there with the sole purpose of trying to get deep into games and trying to get quick outs here and there and get the team back in the dugout to get to the plate," Buchholz said following Wednesday’s game. "You could throw any other four guys that we have out there and they can do the same thing I've been doing. It just happens to be me the last few weeks.”
No, the four other guys could not do what Buchholz has done. No one on the Red Sox pitching staff could post a 1.85 ERA over a six-game stretch right now. The three wins he got during the stretch are more than half of what Beckett has all season (5), and just less than half of Lester (7).
Look at the teams at the top of the standings this season. The Tampa Rays have David Price (16 wins), the Los Angeles Angels have Jared Weaver (16 wins), the Chicago White Sox have Chris Sale (15 wins), and the Texas Rangers have Matt Harrison (14). The Yankees are an exception as they have three pitchers with 12 wins, and another with 11.
The Red Sox on the other hand have only two pitchers with more than seven wins, Buchholz (11) and Felix Doubront (10). Bottom line, in order to be a contender you need an ace, or in the Yankees’ case, a few aces.
Beckett certainly is past his prime and no longer can be the ace of any pitching staff. Lester is the same age as Buchholz, 28, but Lester has not had a stretch like Buchholz had in over a year and a half.
Lester has the potential to be an ace again, but Buchholz needs to be the guy to step up and put his team on his back each time he takes to the mound.
For the Red Sox to go anywhere in 2013, Buchholz needs to take his game to the next level and be the ace of the Red Sox staff like he has shown he can.