Wakeup call: Breating easier in the Bronx

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Wakeup call: Breating easier in the Bronx

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, September 17.:

AUTO RACING
The Chase for the Cup is on, and Brad Keselowski has the early lead. (AP)

BASEBALL
The Yankees are breathing a little easier these days. (AP)

Win or lose, Joe Girardi's job is safe (NBC's Hardball Talk) . . . which, if they blow this thing, will please some Yankee fans not at all.

Be careful what you wish for because it may come true. The Phillies, who were salivating over the prospect of four games in Houston, sure found that out this weekend. (CSN Philly)

The Tigers were probably feeling the same way about their weekend in Cleveland. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Remember Nathan Thurm? No? Well, listen to Mike Aresco for a while and it might jog your memory. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
No surprises at the top of the AP poll this week. (AP)

It sure sounded scary for Bo Pelini on Saturday, but he was back on the job Sunday. (AP)

HOCKEY
Buckle in. This isn't ending any time soon. (AP)

With that in mind, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar are returning to Mother Russia. (AP)

Gary Bettman and the NHL owners ain't real popular these days, not if Twitter is any indication. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk) But at least the Florida Panthers' president is drowning his sorrows with some of that yummy frozen yogurt.

PRO BASKETBALL
Dwight Howard says he learned too late that, in the words of 'ol George Santayana, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
What's that old saying . . . humble in victory, gracious in defeat? Don't know if the 49ers' offensive linemen are the former, but they certainly aren't the latter. (CSN Bay Area)

A wild day in the Meadowlands ended with Eli Manning throwing for 510 yards, a Giant victory, and a postgame dustup between Tom Coughlin and Greg Schiano over the actions of the Tampa Bay defense. (AP)

Hey, we were just doing what the coaches told us to do, shrugged the Bucs' Gerald McCoy. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

This week's blast at the replacement refs comes to you courtesy of Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis. (CSN Baltimore)

Good thing the Eagles and Ravens only play once every four years. Things might get a little nasty if they met more often. (CSN Philly)

After a blip in Buffalo, it's situation normal with the Jets' offense. (AP) Of course, the Steelers may have had a little to do with that.

And, yes, at about the same time Stephen Gostkowski was shanking his kick in Foxboro, Adam Vinatieri was drilling home the game-winner in Indianapolis. (AP)

How many times do we have to tell you: Watch what you put on Facebook! (AP)

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.