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Curt Schilling on D&C: Clay Buchholz ‘not going to be a [No.] 1, that’s just not going to happen’

04.29.15 at 9:29 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday to talk pitching and offer his opinion on what’s going on with the Sox rotation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

For a team that scores as many runs as it does, clocking in at second in the league with 109, the Red Sox‘ run differential is concerning. Boston has a minus-nine in that category, having given up the most runs in the majors at 118. It also has the worst ERA for starting pitchers, a hefty 6.03. While there were reservations about stocking up on middle-of-the-rotation guys to fill out the staff, Schilling said even these results were unprecedented.

“That’s one of those ‘nobody saw it coming’ kind of things,” he said. “I don’t know what to say, I can’t explain it in a way other then they just pitched poorly, but — and I hate to beat a dead horse — but we were talking about No. 1s in spring training, we were talking about the lack of a true one and for me this is one of the things a [No.] 1 prevents.”

Schilling reiterated that having an ace or a clear No. 1 keeps teams in general from skidding and floundering down the line.

“When you have a Pedro [Martinez], you don’t go on five-game losing streaks, your starters don’t go four or five games in a row throwing five innings or less,” he said. “They change the bar and they set the bar and they stop things from happening, and generally you get imitation being the sincerest form of flattery where guys that are pitching against him and with him are trying to match and compete instead of trying to get through the fifth.”

Coming into the season, no one knew for sure who the top guy would be. With Clay Buchholz getting the ball in Game 1 of the season, though, it was fair to assume who the expected ace was. Schilling, however, doesn’t think that Buchholz necessarily has what it takes to fill that role because of the inconsistencies he’s shown.

“The light goes on for most guys, or you click and figure it out, or it’s something you never get,” he said. “He’s not going to be a 1, that’s just not going to happen. It’s not part of his makeup. There are a lot of guys that aren’t 1s in the big leagues, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just recognize — and I played with him eight years ago, so I’m just going based on for me what I saw from a personality perspective. The guy has got phenomenal stuff, physically he’s an incredibly gifted and talented athlete. He wants to be part of a rotation, I’ve always felt like, and there’s a difference between wanting to lead it and wanting to be a part of it.”

Schilling added that part of what Buchholz is missing is a desire to win, or a desire not to lose for that matter. The game has to consume you, according to Schilling, and he didn’t and doesn’t see that with Red Sox righty.

“It’s something that you don’t ever get away from, you don’t want to get away from, because the bottom line is, whatever the dollars are, and they’re awesome and drastic and huge and you [make] a lot of money, they’re not paying you to pitch,” Schilling said. “They’re paying you to win.”

It’s one thing to lament the struggles of the starting rotation, and it’s another to realize that those struggles affect not only the runs on the board, but the load the bullpen has to shoulder as well. Schilling pointed out that the Sox are reaching the point where they need to figure things out or fall the wrong way off the fence.

“I’ve got about another week before I say enough is enough because you can’t sustain this,” he said. “Your bullpen can’t sustain this. … You go from taking water on to going under if your starters can’t get you into the seventh and eighth inning. Screw the fifth, I’m not worried about the fifth, I want to get to the seventh and eighth because if you’re going to ask for four, five, six innings from your bullpen mid-May, you’re going to have problems.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling,
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