Is James Shields the new ace of the KC Royals and the pitcher that they so desperately need?
We’ll just have to wait and see how the 2013 season plays out. He wasn’t considered the ace of his previous team, the TB Rays, the only team he has ever known.
What Shields is is a bulldog on the mound and a pitcher who throws a TON of innings. That is something the Royals haven’t had recently. He also was a huge part of the turnaround in Tampa and he hopes (as do Royals fans) to be a part of it in Kansas City.
Last season, Shields went just 15-10, but had a 3.52 ERA over 33 starts. In 227.2 innings (third in the American League), he allowed 208 hits and 58 walks while striking out 223 (tied for third in the AL). Opponents hit 25 homeruns off him and had an overall average of .239. Shields joins a starting staff that had two in the top 11 in homeruns allowed (Bruce Chen allowed 33 and Luke Hochevar allowed 27). He also threw three complete games, two of which were shutouts. That was down from his 11 complete games in his CY Young caliber 2011 season (2.82 ERA and 225 strikeouts in 249.1 innings).
Shields has thrown 200-plus innings in six straight seasons and he has had at least 31 starts in that amount of time. That makes me wonder how much longer he can keep up that pace before breaking down (ie Roy Halladay last season with Philadelphia).
In 2012, Shields made seven starts against AL Central opponents (not counting against the Royals), with four of those starts coming on the road. He beat Detroit in his second start of the season (8IP, 6H,2R, 5K). He struggled in Cleveland on July 8th (7IP, 10H, 4ER, 2BB, 5K). He was solid in Minnesota on August 12th (7IP, 5H, 2R, BB, 2K), just as he was in his next to last start in Chicago (6.1IP, 6H, 2R, 4BB, 6K).
When Shields makes his 2013 regular season debut for the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, it will be the first time he has pitched there since October of 2010.