2011 Analysis: Taylor Buchholz
It was a low-risk, low-reward signing that to me made sense. After all, Buchholz was once one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, sporting a 97 MPH fastball and a 12-6 deuce that invited swings and misses. All those curves and heaters take a beating on the elbow, however, and the Mets picked him up two years removed from Tommy John surgery. The velocity was nowhere near what it once was, but it was good enough when combined with that hard-breaking yellow hammer. Unfortunately, Buchholz suffered from a shoulder problem and then anxiety issues that knocked him out for most of the season.
When he did pitch, Buchholz showed flashes of effectiveness — though, success was inevitably tied to his ability to control his curve. His fastball velocity was in the low 90s range and had little movement, and he occasionally struggled mightily with his release point — there were brief periods during a game when he simply could not throw a strike. That may or may not have been due to the shoulder issue, or his elbow recovery. But even when he had command of the fastball, his effectiveness still was reliant on how hard the curve was biting and whether he could keep it near the strike zone.
It’s difficult to know whether the Mets will re-up Buchholz, who was signed to a one-year deal. Considering that his season ended in July due to a bout with depression, I hope that the Mets at least make him a minor league offer — if he’s mentally ready to make a return to baseball in the spring. Because physically, he seemed to be OK and on the right track back toward being a reliable reliever.