Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Bats can’t back Buchholz’s strong return

In first start off IL, righty throws six innings of two-run ball
@KeeganMatheson
August 25, 2019

SEATTLE -- Clay Buchholz was activated from the 60-day injured list on Sunday to make his first start since May 5, and the timing couldn’t have been better for the Blue Jays. Buchholz showed no signs of rust in Toronto’s 3-1 loss to Seattle, going six strong innings, with two

SEATTLE -- Clay Buchholz was activated from the 60-day injured list on Sunday to make his first start since May 5, and the timing couldn’t have been better for the Blue Jays.

Buchholz showed no signs of rust in Toronto’s 3-1 loss to Seattle, going six strong innings, with two runs allowed on three hits and three strikeouts. He also had newfound life on his fastball, which averaged 91.2 mph, up from 88.3 mph over his first five starts of the season.

Box score

“I worked hard down there,” said Buchholz, who put on 12 pounds while he rehabbed at the club's Spring Training facility in Dunedin, Fla. “The days are long, but it’s just monotonous. It’s the same thing every day. Sometimes, it’s hard to make yourself get in there and work, but I figured if I was down there, I might as well make the most of it. The resources we have down there, they’re good at what they do. We had a plan once I got down there -- what routine I’d be doing five days a week -- and I stuck with it. I feel good.”

Buchholz was also efficient, which allowed him to work deep into the game despite a limited pitch count. He threw 65 pitches, but spread 20 balls across 20 batters and avoided deep counts.

The veteran right-hander had been dealing with a Grade 2 teres major muscle strain in his upper back, and he completed three outings on a Minor League rehab assignment earlier this month. The remaining regular-season schedule should allow Buchholz to make approximately six more starts. The Blue Jays' rotation has been thinned by injuries and trades, and the results with its younger arms have been mixed of late, so he could provide a steadying presence.

“I’ve had to deal with a lot of different types of issues, even non-baseball-related issues that have sidelined me for an extended period of time,” Buchholz said. “I’ve always said it’s how you come back. It’s not how you are when you’re out there to begin with, it’s how you come back. That’s the thought process I chose to stick with.”

Before hitting the IL, Buchholz posted a 6.57 ERA over his first five big league starts of the season, but he pitched to a 2.01 ERA over 98 1/3 innings in 2018. There have been inconsistencies for Buchholz from season to season, often due to health, but he’s proven to be a very capable Major League starter when he’s right, and he now has an opportunity to show Toronto -- and the rest of baseball -- what he has left for '20 and beyond.

“He was better than I expected, to tell you the truth,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “Going six innings and throwing strikes, only threw 20 balls to the 20 hitters he faced, he was outstanding.”

Ken Giles also returned from the paternity list on Sunday after he and his wife, Estela, had their second baby boy, Brayden. Giles pitched a clean eighth inning, with two strikeouts on 10 pitches, lowering his ERA to 1.76.

Prior to the game, to make room on the 25-man roster, the Blue Jays optioned relievers Brock Stewart and Justin Shafer to Triple-A Buffalo. Stewart followed the opener, Wilmer Font, on Saturday in Seattle and pitched five innings, earning his third win in as many appearances this season.

Reliever Nick Kingham was also designated for assignment to make room for Buchholz on the 40-man roster.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction (it had been 10 days under the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement), the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.