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xtra xtra!
Posted August 25, 2005
Schilling Back in Rotation
By Paul Noonan

     It’s been long awaited.  Finally, Curt Schilling is expected to get his first start since April.  After an early injury, which many thought could cripple the Red Sox, Curt has fought his way from rehab to bullpen, finally back to his role as the ace.  Luckily for the Sox, despite the absence of Schilling they have managed to stay in first place for the bulk of the season, showing off the depth of their staff.  Now, with Schilling’s return, the question is if the Sox will see a stronger finish, a weaker finish, or basically cruise to the end the way they have been all season.

     The return of Schilling will leave many questions to be answered in terms of what the Sox do with their pitching staff.  In an ironic stroke of luck, Wade Miller’s injury could turn out to be a blessing, as the Sox avoid the trouble of having to decide which starter gets the demotion.  With Miller out and Papelbon his temporary replacement, it seems definite that Papelbon will be in the bullpen for the duration of the summer, which could be another blessing.  After another strong outing against the Angels this weekend, Papelbon has proven his worth in the big leagues, and has been a pretty dominant force in his brief stint.  With a live young arm, Papelbon could be a great long or middle reliever in our struggling bullpen.  Meanwhile, Schilling’s role as a closer was a forgettable one, as he rarely showed the dominance expected.   It remains to be seen whether returning to the rotation will be a better fit for Curt down the stretch.  Those two moves however, do leave a void in the closer role.  With Foulke still a little time away, someone must temporarily fill Schilling’s void.  Mike Timlin seems like the logical choice, but he has said he would not want the role.  So the Sox must find someone else until Foulke returns.  Hot prospect Chris Hansen has been rumored to be getting the call- up, but in the midst of a playoff race, the Sox may be wary to do it. 

     Nevertheless, a healthy Schilling will be a needed boost to a struggling rotation as of late.  Dropping four of their last seven (as of Sunday), the Sox’s road woes are catching up to them again.  But even better than Schilling’s immediate impact was what his injury did for the Sox in the long term.  It can also be credited to Foulke and Miller, but the injuries to the Sox’s pitching staff have allowed the Sox to give their young pitching talents a chance to prove themselves in some meaningful games throughout the season.  Guys like Papelbon, Jeremy Gonzales and Manny Delcarmen have provided a great deal of optimism for the Sox’s future on the mound.   As Schilling finally gets back to his familiar role, the Sox can be comfortable knowing that they have plenty of guys who can help him out if needed. 

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Curt Schilling heads back into the Sox rotation.