James Shields is one of the most under appreciated players in major league baseball right now. There. I said it.
Is he the ace “Big Game James” that he was when he was in Tampa Bay and Kansas City? No, he is not. But, he has given a lot to the White Sox, and more than what appears on a stat sheet. His numbers this year are not particularly sexy, having a 4-12 record with a 4.5 ERA heading into today’s game. Not great stats for a guy who is getting paid as much as he is, but diving further, he provides much more for the White Sox.
Shields has started 22 games this year, and in 18 of those games, he has gone at least 6 innings. Has he given up runs? Of course, that’s a given considering his ERA. But, the important thing here is that he’s going deep into games. The rotation is very shaky besides him, with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito having rough first full seasons in the big leagues, and Carlos Rodon‘s health limiting his playing time. Shields has been a rock in the rotation for manager Rick Renteria and the bullpen to lean on.
Tonight, Shields had another solid outing. He went seven full innings, giving up five hits, with a couple two-run homers, walking three and striking out eight. Although most of his outings are not perfect, his ability to continuously go deep into games has helped out the bullpen several times this year.
In addition to being a sturdy piece in the rotation, Shields has been able to mentor several young arms. The White Sox are always producing good, young pitching and having a mentor with success like James Shields has had, it is a value most teams do not have the luxury of possessing. Dane Dunning has already talked about the impact Shields had on him and I’m sure the likes of Michael Kopech, Spencer Adams, and the plethora of White Sox pitching prospects have all gotten advice from the workhorse.
The White Sox offense was pretty quiet all night, with Royals starter Danny Duffy able to contain them for most of the night. Jose Abreu was able to double before Matt Davidson hit a home run to bring the game within two runs, but that was the major highlight. The Royals are surely tired of Davidson, who has absolutely destroyed them. The offense continues to be hit or miss when it comes to scoring runs and tonight was closer to miss than hit.
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