2010 Rockies Player Review: Taylor Buchholz

It had last been 2008 when we saw Taylor Buchholz pitch, a career year in which "the Lemur" tossed his way into the spotlight during an otherwise disappointing year for the Rockies. Serving as the primary setup reliever for most of that season, Buchholz showed great stability and resolve through the first two thirds of the season. Buchholz's success slowed in August, then ground to a halt in early September, as Buchholz was sidelined for the final three weeks of the 2008 season, and eventually sent to have Tommy John surgery, effectively eliminating any role the reviler could play in 2009.

Between 2008 and Spring Training 2010, the Rockies had acquired and then re-signed reliever Rafael Betancourt to serve as the primary setup man, and there was little likelihood that Buchholz would return to the form we had seen in 2008, where the reliever had pitched to the tune of a .220 BABIP. Though many of Buchholz' other stats, including the solid BB/9 of 2.44 were closer to his career norms, Buchholz was not going to be seeing setup time in 2010 for a myriad of reasons that would only keep growing as the season advanced.

Buchholz was deemed unready to begin the season on the active roster, and was placed on the disabled list to continue his rehab work in Extended Spring Training. Buchholz began what would become a series of difficult rehab assignments in May. His health was unstable, and he was pulled off rehab twice before eventually reaching his return to the big leagues over two months later on July 24th, as the Rockies returned a controversially bullpen-ridden Jhoulys Chacin to AAA to begin starting again.

The reliever's stint with the Rockies would consist of approximately 3 weeks and just 7 appearances, several of which lasted multiple innings, filled with grand inconsistencies in health and performance. Major control issues were visible, and it wasn't long before Buchholz was headed straight back to the disabled list with back problems. He would not pitch for the team again, despite returning to the active roster after the roster expansion on September 1st.

As the team was searching for roster space to house recent non-roster callups Jay Payton and Paul Phillips on September 7th, Buchholz was quietly and anticlimactically designated for assignment. He was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays two days later. The community was initially surprised at the move, but there was clearly much more internal concern about his health than we had ever realized. Buchholz never showed himself to be healthy, on rehab or in the majors, and with the influx of several right handed pitchers with better stuff available at the time, his presence was superfluous.

Grade: D. Unable to prove himself recovered from his surgery or the plethora of subsequent injuries he would attract, the Lemur was essentially a complete non-contributor during the season. Unable to justify a spot for the reliever, he was allowed to leave and become a rehabilitation project elsewhere.

Buchholz has played a game of organizational musical chairs since the season ended, as his stint with the Blue Jays (where he made it only into two games) ended with a second waiver claim, this time by the Boston Red Sox. The Sox non-tendered Buchholz, who has since signed an MLB contract with the New York Mets, who clearly believe his health must be improved, as this was not a minor league deal.

Best of luck to Taylor in the future.

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