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The Season Rests on His Shoulders

The Red Sox are 58-36 on July 21. That's the second-best record in major league baseball, but the Sox still need more (a starter - or two, to be specific). But for the Sox to continue to play good baseball and push themselves into the post-season past the New York Yankees, they'll need a Herculean effort from one player.

It's not Curt Schilling. It's not Jonathan Papelbon. It's not David Ortiz.

It's David Wells. Boomer. Jumbo. Baldy. Mr. Drunken Perfect Game. Whatever you want to call him, the Red Sox are in his hands for the rest of the season.

If the Red Sox want to cement their position at the top of the American League East and win the division for the first time since 1995, Wells is our answer. If he can be anywhere near his performance last year or over the course of his career, the Red Sox will walk all over the A.L. and be the team to beat. Not the White Sox nor the Tigers, but a rotation led by Schilling and anchored at the bottom by Wells.

The rotation is a mixed bag to say the least. Schilling has been the rock. Josh Beckett has either been Cy Young or Cy Morgan. Jon Lester has been one of the luckiest rookies in the league. Tim Wakefield has battled, but now is on the disabled list. Matt Clement, Lenny DiNardo, Kyle Snyder, Jason Johnson, and Pawtucket youngsters have been mediocre-to-horrible. We need to solidify the rotation.

That is Wells' job.

Look at the trade market for a starting pitcher. It's ridiculously thin. I don't remember it ever being this thin. Who's out there? The old (Livan Hernandez) and the expensive (Barry Zito) top the list. None of which the Sox want to touch with a 10-foot pole.

We don't want to pull the trigger on a lame duck trade, either. Remember Jeff Suppan? Theo Epstein never wants to pull another trade like that. Whenever the words "deadline deal" are thrown around, Epstein always refers back to the July 31, 2003 massacre.

That's why we need Wells. If we get Wells to 2005 form or anything earlier than that, we will win the East. No doubt about it. With the way the Yankees pitching staff looks and the uncertainty of the Jays down the line, the big lefty will give us a huge advantage down the stretch. Just think - we're doing this well with pitchers like Johnson and Snyder sharing starts; what if we had a precision lefty in the rotation?

Here's another thing about Wells that would benefit the Sox immensely in the second half: he owns Fenway Park. The Red Sox have the most home games of any team after the All-Star break. Combine that with his 3.07 ERA in 82.0 innings last year at home, we've got something good brewing.

This all is on the shoulders of Wells - or should I say, the knees of Wells. If he's healthy and determined to pitch (we know he's on the brink of retirement), we can stride through the second half past the hobbled Yankees and the inexperienced Jays.

Of course, if Wells is bad (like April 12, the only game I've gone to this season) we're not necessarily screwed. We've made it this far without him, so we can grind it out the rest of the season without him, too. We would just be in a much better position if we can throw out Wells against a team like the Yankees or White Sox, not Snyder, Johnson or Kason Gabbard.

Call me crazy, but I think we can win it all if we've got a healthy and effective David Wells on our side.