The Boston Red Sox are betting on a strong rebound from Clay Buchholz in 2017 after announcing they had picked up the starting pitcher’s contract option.  

Jon Heyman of Todays Knuckleball reported in October the Red Sox were “seriously thinking” about picking up Buchholz’s option despite posting a 4.78 ERA in 2016, and some people in MLB felt he could have received a multiyear deal as a free agent because of the lack of free-agent pitching options.

Buchholz’s option is for $13.5 million and included a $500,000 buyout, per His tenure with the Red Sox has featured stretches of brilliance but has also been marred by bouts of inconsistency and injury. 

Since Buchholz’s first full season in 2008, he has never made 30 starts in a season. His single-season high in innings pitched is 189.1 during the 2012 campaign, though he’s failed to reach the 140-inning barrier each of the last two seasons. 

Things reached a point for Buchholz in 2016 in which Red Sox manager John Farrell moved him to the bullpen. He did finish the season strong and was able to make Boston’s playoff rotation, starting Game 3 of the American League Division Series against Cleveland

The Red Sox will be happy if there is a happy medium with Buchholz in 2017. They are fortunate to have more depth in the starting rotation. They should benefit from Rick Porcello’s 22-win form, David Price’s ability to do more than he offered in his first season with the team and, hopefully, a full year out of Eduardo Rodriguez.

Buchholz doesn’t have to be the star in the rotation anymore. He just has to provide the team with something around a league-average performance as the No. 4 or 5 option for manager John Farrell.

The Red Sox will rise or fall based on their loaded offense in 2017, but their pitching depth is going to play a key role in determining just how far the team is able to go with Buchholz being one of the great unknowns for Boston.

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