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Red Sox looking for first win in a Clay Buchholz start this season

Clay Buchholz has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball to start the season. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

The Boston Red Sox are 0-5 in games started by Clay Buchholz this season and 15-6 in games started by any other pitcher.

Buchholz, who is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) has been among the game’s worst starters this season. Out of 105 qualified starters entering Wednesday, Buchholz ranked 102nd in ERA (6.51), 100th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.46-to-1) and 99th in opponent on-base percentage (.371).

He has allowed at least five earned runs in four of five starts on the year. The only player with more starts of that kind within a team’s first 25 games in the last 10 seasons is Buchholz himself. He gave up at least five earned runs in each of his first five starts in 2012 before finishing with a 3.82 ERA the rest of the way.

Not throwing strikes

Red Sox manager John Farrell was critical of Buchholz’s command after his most recent outing.

"There are times when we've seen Clay execute pitches with, I think, a greater conviction to the pitch. There are other times where maybe he's pitched away from contact a little bit too much and not attacked the strike zone." – John Farrell

Buchholz has thrown in the strike zone on 48 percent of pitches in five starts this season, down 10 percentage points from his final five starts in 2015, which led the majors during that stretch. He has thrown his fastballs in the zone 46 percent of the time this season, which ranks 100th out of 105 qualified starters.

The lack of pitches in the zone has resulted in a much lower chase rate for Buchholz. Opponents have gone after 24 percent of his offerings outside the strike zone, 86th in the league and down over seven percentage points from his final five starts in 2015.

Trouble with the heater

Buchholz mixes in a cutter with his two- and four-seam fastballs. He has found much greater success with the cutter than his other fastballs.

Fewer than 10 percent of at-bats ending with a cutter from Buchholz this season have ended with a hard-hit ball. His two- and four-seam fastballs have resulted in hard hits nearly 28 percent of time.

Lefties teeing off

Left-handed hitters have batted just seven points higher than righties against Buchholz in 10 Major-League seasons (.255 compared to .248), but his platoon splits have been drastic to start the 2016 season.

In 63 plate appearances against Buchholz this season, lefties have hit the ball hard 14 times and soft 12 times. Righties have just five hard-hit balls in 61 plate appearances against Buchholz with weak contact in 38 plate appearances.

As a result of the hard-contact splits, Buchholz has allowed a .358 batting average with a 1.045 OPS to lefties and a .214 batting average with a .600 OPS to righties on the year.