With velo down, Buchholz focused on finesse

Veteran right-hander allows four runs in five innings in Phillies debut

With velo down, Buchholz focused on finesse

CINCINNATI -- Clay Buchholz is a much different pitcher than the one that debuted with the Red Sox in 2007.

His fastball could hit 98 mph early in his career, but in Thursday's 7-4 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park it averaged about 90 mph.

"You can miss a little bit more often whenever your velocity is up there like that," Buchholz said. "When you're trying to sink and cut and use off-speed pitches to keep them off balance, you have to make good pitches. These guys are getting paid to hit. They're going to hit mistakes."

Buchholz allowed seven hits, four runs, two walks and struck out three in five innings in his Phillies debut. He found himself in trouble much of the afternoon, having at least one runner in scoring position in every inning except the first, as the Phillies lost two of three in the series.

Cozart's RBI single

"It could have gone a lot better. It could have gone a lot worse in a couple of situations," Buchholz said. "Just watching the first two games of the series, they have a lot of guys going up there and swinging. It's tough to make yourself throw a fastball. If it's just off the plate, you start 1-0. If you miss, and it's too much on the plate, it could be a homer. That's Pitching 101. You have to try to keep the hitter off balance. That's sort of what I do now."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin thought Buchholz threw the ball better than he had at any point in Spring Training, although Buchholz posted a 6.65 ERA in 21 2/3 innings in Florida. But Mackanin thinks Buchholz can be successful as a "finesse guy."

"Yeah, because he changes speed, he holds runners pretty well," Mackanin said. "He can be effective, kind of in the same way that Jeremy Hellickson is. But you have to have that real good command when you pitch like that. You just can't make many mistakes when you're not a power pitcher."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.