White Sox fans take heed: James Shields is in the last year of his four-year, $75 million contract. Shields started three games in April before he hurt his lat, sidelining him until June. At the time, Shields had a 1.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. However, 10 walks and three homers allowed in those initial 16.2 innings was a harbinger of what was to come after he returned. Shields ended the season with an ERA over 5.00 for the second straight season, allowing 27 homers in just 117 innings, walking 53 along the way. His season was mercifully cut a start or two short with knee tendinitis, which required PRP injections. If you're looking for a positive, Shields sported his second-highest swinging-strike rate of the past five seasons. There was a time Shields was a highly skilled, undervalued fantasy asset. Now, he's a glorified pitching coach, playing out the string.
Shields (knee) could be the White Sox's starter Opening Day at Kansas City, Scott Merkin of the White Sox's official site reports. Merkin speculated that Shields makes the most sense as the Opening Day starter if Carlos Rodon (shoulder) is not ready to take the hill. The White Sox open the season with a six-game road trip in Kansas City and Toronto, meaning the Game 1 starter would need to pitch two games away from Chicago. The veteran right-hander would be more attuned to handle the road starts at the outset of the season rather than the young prospects (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer) that are expected to be included in the starting rotation.
Shields won't make another start before the end of the season due to knee tendinitis, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. Shields will get PRP injections in both of his knees and rest up for the remainder of the regular season. Chris Volstad is expected to step into the rotation to start Sunday for Shields. The 35-year-old compiled a 5.23 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 117 innings (21 starts) this season.
Shields (5-7) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out eight batters through seven innings during Monday's win over the Angels. Shields entered Monday with a serviceable 4.56 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 through his previous nine outings, so this was another respectable showing from the veteran. Those are helpful fantasy numbers in deeper settings. Unfortunately, Shields lines up for a potentially tough road start against Cleveland to finish off his 2017 campaign.
Shields (4-7) allowed three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out five in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Astros. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Shields. The 35-year-old has a 5.40 ERA, the second consecutive season with an ERA above 5.00, and is giving up a career-high 2.1 home runs per nine innings. After 10 straight seasons with more than 30 starts, there's a lot of mileage on that right arm. Now might be the time his effectiveness as a starter diminishes.
Shields (4-6) earned a win Thursday despite allowing four runs on nine hits -- including three homers -- over six innings against the Tigers. He struck out seven and issued one walk. This was ugly and it could have been much worse; all three homers allowed were solo shots. The fact that he was the "victor" here speaks to the futility of the pitcher win. Shields did turn in a strong performance his last time out Sept. 9 against San Francisco, but the underlying numbers suggest Shields has been even worse over the course of the season than his 5.43 ERA would indicate. He faces the Astros in Houston next week.