Boston Red Sox Rotation: Could Roy Oswalt Be the Answer?

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIDecember 14, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 05:  Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies on the mound in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 5, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The following stats for each player are from ages 23-33.
Stat line legend: Record, ERA, Compiled Innings, WHIP, K/BB, WAR

Player 1: 110-91, 3.41 ERA, 1876.1 innings pitched, 1.184 WHIP, 3.36 K/BB, 36.8 WAR
Player 2: 159-93, 3.22 ERA, 2154 innings pitched, 1.190 WHIP, 3.66 K/BB, 50.2 WAR

Now it is time for the viewers at home to get their chance. Can you guess who these players are? Well, for those of you who read the title I am sure you know one of them is Roy Oswalt. That would be “Player 2.”

“Player 1,” is, drum roll please…. Curt Schilling!

Are you readers flabbergasted yet (now you should be, since I dropped a “flabbergasted”)? I know what you are thinking, there is no way Roy Oswalt is the same pitcher that Curt Schilling was. But, I promise you the comparison is not that far off.

Both can be considered a power pitcher. Oswalt sports a go-to fastball that sits in the 92-94 mph range, while working in a plus slider and some off-speed offerings. Schilling used to set up with his 94-96 mph fastball, using a deadly split-finger as his out pitch.

Each player has electric pitches that create a lot of strikeouts, but they also demonstrate excellent control. Roy Oswalt’s career high in single-season walks is 62; Curt Schilling’s was 61. As the stats above show, both have pretty similar K/BB (with Oswalt’s actually 0.30 points higher).

Despite all the similarities, these players are still a bit like apples and oranges.

Despite eating a lot of innings, Oswalt still has one of the smaller pitcher’s frames in baseball (6'0", 190 lbs.), while Schilling (last reported at 6'5", 205 lbs.) was a big guy who could go deep in a game with ease.

While Roy Oswalt has seen a lot of early success in his career, Schill’s career did not take off until his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Despite this entire running in circles, there is a point to this.

To finish their 2003 season, the Boston Red Sox suffered a humiliating playoff defeat to the New York Yankees. It was obvious that the current rotation could not cut it, and the then-GM Theo Epstein went out and netted Curt Schilling. Schilling led the team to a World Series win in 2004, another in 2007, and will go down as one of the most pivotal pitchers in Boston Red Sox history.

Here we are in 2011 and the storylines seem suspiciously parallel. Boston is still reeling from a humiliating September collapse, which culminated in a loss to the division rival Baltimore Orioles. If Red Sox nation learned anything in 2011, it was that our rotation could not cut it.

With the trade market starting to develop, and the free agent market thinning out, the question remains: who can save the Boston Red Sox rotation?

Is the answer Roy Oswalt?

He is, and he is not. Roy Oswalt is not Curt Schilling. He is not the front line ace the Sox need to pair with Jon Lester. The only way Boston can land a player like that will be through a trade. However, with that said, Roy Oswalt would be fantastic secondary support.

Right now, Boston has a three-man rotation: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz. John Lackey will be out having Tommy John Surgery, while Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to recover from it. That leaves two spots open.

What team could not utilize Roy Oswalt as a No. 4 starter? It is where he was slotted in in Philadelphia, and despite back issues in 2011 he thrived.

But there is the rub. Oswalt has not been the healthiest of workhorses in the last couple of years. The 34-year-old suffered from off and on back pain in 2011 that limited him to 24 starts. As stated above, Oswalt boasts a particularly small frame for a pitcher; I doubt his 195 innings pitched per season is working to keep it healthy.

From 2001-2007, Curt Schilling was one of the best there was, despite growing from age 34-40. In that span he averaged 27 starts per season. The right-hander has always sported a bit of fat around the trim, which helped him devour innings as a pitcher.

Despite similar stats and pitching styles, the frames of these pitchers put them on completely different planes.

The Red Sox need rotation support, and Roy Oswalt could provide that in 2012. Current mumblings have the right-hander looking for a three-year deal. Oswalt made $16,000,000 in 2011, and a price of $48,000,000 over three years could be too much for the risk.

However, at a discount, and for two years with a third year option, Oswalt could be a great investment for the Boston Red Sox. His arm will solidify the back of the rotation, while his veteran presence adds a dimension of leadership (something Boston pitching obviously lacked in 2011).

The risk is there, but at the right price Roy Oswalt could be the best player the Boston Red Sox could land this offseason.