So, how much is a pitcher who will turn 41 later this month and has lost a few miles per hour off his fastball worth? That will be debated in the coming months, but this much is clear: For the ‘07 Red Sox, the value of a Schilling was priceless.
Curt in the Car took a backseat this year, months ago lauding young gun Josh Beckett as the staff ace, but when the calendar turned, one of the greatest pitchers in postseason history stepped to the mound and did what he had always done in October.
The guy with the bloody sock was a gutty Sox as he won three games in this magical postseason, including a 2-1 victory over Colorado in Game 2 of the World Series that elevated his postseason record to 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA.
”I’ve spent almost 15 years putting together a résumé in October, and that’s become one of the things I’ve become known by,” Curt Schilling said as the playoffs neared. “That’s on the line again.”
In helping send the Rockies back to the mountains with a two-game Series deficit, Schilling held the National League champions to just one run on four singles in 5 1/3 innings. He tipped his hat as he walked off the mound and received a raucous ovation from the Fenway crowd, which was seemingly aware of the veteran’s contract status and the fact that they may have witnessed his final start in a Boston uniform.
”It’s a good feeling when he pitches,” manager Terry Francona understated afterward. “Whatever the situation, you know he’s going to be prepared for it.”
Perhaps no pitcher in baseball is better prepared than Schilling, his copious note-taking well documented, but even he couldn’t have been prepared, mentally and physically, to make the switch from power pitcher to finesse pitcher so quickly. On June 7, he came within one out of throwing his first career no-hitter, denied by Shannon Stewart’s single to right. Just two starts later, he felt a sharp decrease in velocity during a game against Atlanta June 18 in which he was hammered for six earned runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Five days later, he was shut down.
On Aug. 6, he resurfaced.
As Frank Tanana.
Relying on finesse, offspeed pitches, and pinpoint control, he finished the season 9-8 with a 3.87 ERA. But as always with Schilling, regular-season numbers are never a good measuring stick.
So where does he go from here? After the sweep of the Rockies gave him his third ring, he said, “I’d like to stick around and get one more and walk away.”
Schilling, who earned $13 million this season, may not get that chance. And if indeed he’s allowed to just walk away, his legacy in Boston is secure.
What’s a Schilling worth?
About the price of a couple of World Series rings.