MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has thrown a changeup just seven percent of the time this season, according to data compiled by BrooksBaseball.net. That's well down from his 20 percent career rate.
"That's what me and [pitching coach Bob McClure] have been talking about," said Buchholz, who is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts. "My changeup has always been a pitch I've been able to throw 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, and I don't have that confidence in it right now to go out there and throw it like I have in the past That's what I've been working on the past couple of weeks -- trying to get a feel for it, and hopefully being able to have that pitch in the bag where you can be behind in the count and throw it."
Buchholz is scheduled for his fourth start of the season Wednesday night against the Twins. He hasn't allowed fewer than five runs in a start and has as many runs allowed (17) as innings pitched.
"It's all release point-related," said Buchholz, who has nine strikeouts and seven walks. "Once you find a release point, the changeup will come into effect. That's been up, too. If my four-seamer and two-seamer are down, usually the changeup is down, too. It's the same pitch, just basically a different grip. Once I get to that point and I throw a couple of good pitches and get out of the first couple of innings without giving any runs, I think it'll put me in the right direction."
Also of note is that Buchholz's fastball velocity has averaged 92.88 mph, down almost a full mph from last season and well below his 94.32 mph lifetime average.
Buchholz suffered a stress fracture in his lower back last season and did not pitch in a game after June 16. Manager Bobby Valentine said he wasn't sure if the back was a factor for Buchholz or whether it was affecting his ability to finish pitches. But Valentine did hone in on the changeup.
"I thought he had a great bullpen [session] yesterday," Valentine said. "He reviewed his last game [against the Yankees on Friday], and everyone else did, too, and obviously they centered a lot of balls, but he also threw a lot of quality pitches. We've got to get that consistent quality down in the zone. When he's down, he's pretty effective -- very effective. He really needs that changeup to be down and to be comfortable with it.''