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Preview, #149: 9/15 @ Astros

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Clay Buchholz’s season is over. But we thank him for his service.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS ASTROS
A.J. Pollock - CF George Springer - CF
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Jose Altuve - 2B
David Peralta - LF Alex Bregman - 3B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Marwin Gonzalez - LF
Daniel Descalso - DH Yuli Gurriel - 1B
Steven Souza - RF Carlos Correa - SS
Ketel Marte - 2B Tyler White - DH
Nick Ahmed - SS Brian McCann - C
Alex Avila - C Josh Reddick - RF

How good was Clay Buchholz for the Diamondbacks this year? He threw 98.1 innings with an ERA of just 2.01. That’s the lowest ERA in franchise history by any pitcher with more than eighty innings of work, beating the previous best of 2.32, set by Randy Johnson in 2002. He was worth 3.2 bWAR to the team, which makes him more valuable to Arizona in 2018 than J.D. Martinez was in 2017 (2.6 bWAR). And, perhaps most importantly, he took the rotation spot previously occupied by Kris Medlen (who pitched so badly, he retired immediately after his start for the D-backs) and Troy Scribner, and turned it from a position of dread into one of strength.

It’s now over, with the announcement that Buchholz’s season has ended due to a flexor strain in his right arm. His last outing, on Thursday in Colorado, ended before it even began, when he felt pain in his elbow while warming up. He was replaced by Matt Koch, and flew back to Arizona for an MRI. The diagnosis was a problem in the same area where Clay had surgery in April of 2017 to repair a torn tendon, an injury which cost him the rest of the season. We don’t know yet whether this latest issue will also require action, or if it’s something which will fix itself with rest. But it’s a blow for both the D-backs, who will apparently go the Koch/bullpen route as a replacement, and for Buchholz.

If he had remained healthy, it’s likely Clay would have received a significant payday in 2019, after effectively spending 2018 in the wilderness. Buchholz, who turned 34 last month, received $13.5 million in 2017 while with the Phillies - that was the final season of a deal covering four years plus two option years, signed with the Red Sox in April 2011. There had been suggestions that he could be in line for another eight-figure payday next year, but clearly this injury puts that seriously in doubt. Any contract, whether from the D-backs or someone else, will depend entirely on Buchholz being able to prove his health on the mound all over again.