Already leading the majors in hits allowed with 135, James Shields gave up 11 more Sunday in the Rays’ 7-3 loss to the Red Sox, making this four straight starts in which he’s allowed at least 10.
Shields is the first pitcher since the Cardinals’ Joel Pineiro in 2008 to surrender at least 10 hits in four consecutive outings. The Rays’ Albie Lopez was the last pitcher to do it more than four starts in a row. He did it in six straight starts in 2001, losing all of them and racking up a 9.09 ERA in the process. Atlanta’s Greg Maddux actually did it five times in a row in 1999, going 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA during that span.
Shields was one of the AL’s best pitchers last year, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA in 249 1/3 innings. However, his 2012 is shaping up a lot more like his 2010, when he managed to give up 246 hits in 203 1/3 innings and finished 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA. The Rays would have gotten a top-notch return had they opted to move him last winter; the Reds were interested and could have parted with the same kind of package they gave up for Mat Latos (Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger). The Rays, though, weren’t trading him then and probably aren’t going to sell low on him now.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.