Skeptics Say: The 2010 season was off to begin with. His FIP and xFIP were about a run off of his ERA. He also has not come close to realizing the strikeout potential that he displayed in the minors (the K/9 is somewhere in the 6 range). So even if he can completely right the ship on last season's back injury and get to the hill 30+ times in 2012, there's no guarantee that he can outperform a top 120 pick in a draft.
Peer Comparison: Buchholz's K rate is a rare site among starting pitchers in the top forty in these rankings. Here are the other starters that strikeout under 7 hitters per 9 innings that are ranked in the top 40 among starters.
Roy Oswalt (6.02 K/9)
Doug Fister (6.07 K/9)
Tim Hudson (6.61 K/9)
While Oswalt was in the low 6s last year, he was over 8 the season before. For his career, he's struck out exactly 7 batters per 9 innings.
Fister's rankings is built heavily on his finish in 2011. He ended up striking out one hitter every inning in September. The other months weren't as great, but the stikeouts per walk was basically twice as good as Buchholz.
Hudson is the only pitcher among this group that has made a living of not being a heavy strikeout guy year after year. Firster isn't there yet and Buchholz certainly isn't there yet.
Team Outlook: If you lived in Boston during the month of October and listened to sports radio everyday (as I did), you know that the Red Sox rotation was metaphorically placed in front of a steam roller. Buchholz did not draw as much criticism as John Lackey, Josh Beckett, or even Jone Lester, but he was involved in the greatest controversy surrounding the great collapse. If he can't be motivated by his season (or lack thereof) in the offseason, then he will at least want to prove what the media says about him and his mates to be wrong.
What They're Saying: CBS Sportsline: #45 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockroft of ESPN.com: #66 Starting Pitcher & #236 Overall; RotoChamp: #260 Overall
Projection: Buchholz can grow in stirkeouts. We've seen it happen with Justin Verlander (among others) all of a sudden. I wouldn't expect a huge growth, but maybe the time watching last year helped him in terms of thinking the game. It also won't hurt to be supported by one of the best offenses in baseball.
17 wins 3.76 ERA 1.25 WHIP 158 K in 208 innings