James Shields was obliterated in his third consecutive start as a member of the White Sox, serving up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Indians on Saturday. Over three starts with the Pale Hose, Shields has given up 21 earned runs on 24 hits (including five home runs) and nine walks with five strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. For those counting at home, that’s a 21.81 ERA.
Shields was also smoked for 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings in his final start with the Padres before changing his address. What’s wrong with the veteran 34-year-old?
In a report from Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, An American League scout said of Shields, “He doesn’t have the stuff he used to have. He doesn’t have a dominant out pitch anymore. He has enough but he needs plus command.”
Another scout said, “No way [the White Sox] make this deal if his stuff was really bad. He’s obviously past his prime, but they were just hoping he could hold down the back end of the rotation. But not even close so far. Yikes, I am shocked.”
Shields, his catcher Dioner Navarro, nor manager Robin Ventura know exactly what’s wrong with him, going by the quotes in Van Schouwen’s column.
According to FanGraphs, Shields is averaging 90.2 MPH on his fastball, his lowest velocity since his first two years in the majors with the Devil Rays. His pitch selection hasn’t noticeably changed, but his curve has been his only reliable pitch, per the pitch values found at FanGraphs.