Clay Buchholz remains in Red Sox rotation

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz will remain in the Red Sox rotation, manager John Farrell announced Sunday, one day after the right-hander again had early-inning struggles.

Buchholz gave up five runs -- all in the first two innings -- in six innings in Saturday's 6-5 win over the Houston Astros as his ERA spiked to 6.11 through eight starts. He has surrendered eight home runs after giving up six in 18 starts a season ago and is sporting the worst strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.60) of his 10-year career.

Farrell offered a quick "Yes" when asked whether Buchholz would stay in the rotation and later provided an explanation for his continued struggles.

"It's not a matter of stuff. I wouldn't say it's pitch selection," Farrell said. "It comes down to location, and that was the case yesterday, whether it's throwing behind in counts, a walk mixed in or a pitch that leaks back to the middle of the plate and is squared up.

"And it's seemingly showing its head in the first couple of innings."

Buchholz has given up 19 runs in the first two innings of games and just 12 in innings three through seven. His job security has been called into question not only because of the performance but also because of the eventual return of left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, although Farrell said Sunday that Rodriguez will need at least one more rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Rodriguez, who suffered a knee injury in spring training, gave up three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings for the PawSox on Saturday. He has 10 strikeouts in 21 innings over four rehab appearances, allowing five home runs in the past three outings.

"We'd still like to see an uptick in performance in general," Farrell said. "Health-wise he felt good coming out of it. While yesterday is a slight improvement over his previous start and certainly over two starts ago, he's going to make his next start at Pawtucket. That'll be Thursday. Not back to the level we've been accustomed to seeing from Eduardo."

While the organization does not need Rodriguez to hit triple digits on the radar gun, it wants a little more aggressiveness from him.

"I don't want to say there's a magic velocity number that we're waiting to see, but I think what that measure is telling us is that he might be a little reserved, and that's not completely uncommon for a pitcher getting over an injury," Farrell said. "Any time you look at a player, you're hopeful that you're doing right by them. He's not back to the levels that he pitched at here last year. There's a bias, a little bit of time. We also have the off days coming up where we don't have to insert a fifth starter, per se, so we'll take advantage of the opportunity to go one more time."

The Red Sox are off Thursday and the following Monday, which likely means that Sunday's starter -- Sean O'Sullivan -- will be skipped until Rodriguez or Joe Kelly returns. Kelly (shoulder) will make his third rehab start for Pawtucket on Monday before being re-evaluated.