Sunday, April 23, 2006

Taylor Buckholz Good, Maybe Too Good to be True

It's hard to argue with success when a pitcher comes within an eyelash of a complete game, one-hit shutout and sports a 1.80 ERA, but promising Astros hurler Taylor Buckholz's downside must not be disregarded. Though Buckholz, 27, was perfect through six, he must be characterized as "effectively wild" though his first three innings. Like all rookies, Buckholz tends to struggle with control, evident as he found just enough accuracy on his 95-mph fastball to shut down the first nine batters. After that Buckholz was in a zone, pitching the greatest game of his career. But it remains confusing as to where Buckholz fits in Houston's complicated rotation picture. For one thing, Brandon Backe could return from the DL in as little as six weeks, though he may be out for much longer. Another problem is that Roger Clemens may sign after May 1, and youngster Wandy Rodriguez, with a 3-0 record and 2.52 ERA, has also impressed. The Astros No. 4 and No. 5 rotation spots remain a puzzle at best.