Assessing the players: James Shields

What grade does James Shields get?

The assessment series continues as I look at the former ace of the pitching staff, James Shields. “Big Game” was a major disappointment this season, failing to live up to his self-appointed nickname. Shields even stated it was his time to shine in the playoffs, but literally fell off the mound and threw the game way in a 0-6 loss to the Texas Rangers. So here final assessment of Shields and trust me, I am not going easy on him.

Shields finished the season with a record of 13-15, starting the year as the number one starter but losing that spot to David Price. Shields finished the year with an ERA of 5.18, recorded 187 strikeouts and gave up 51 walks. He pitched a total of 203.1 innings, giving up 246 hits (opponents hitting .294 against him), and allowed 34 home runs in just 33 starts. The numbers tell the story of Shields, too many hits and too many runs.

“No Game” Shields in reality was never an ace pitcher, he is better suited as the third of fourth starter in the pitching rotation. He is 56-51 for his career and has an ERA of over 4.5 as well, not the numbers for an ace pitcher. Shields talked big during the playoffs, but failed to live up to the talk and fell off the mound and threw the ball away on another error which cost the Rays the game to Texas.

Shields also has an average fastball (maxing out at 93 at best) and he tends to leaves over the plate and up, which explains the reason he gives up so many hits. His off-speed pitches are nothing special and he does have command issues at times.

The Rays may trade Shields away (fingers crossed), even though trading a starting pitcher away is tough to do because of the value of pitching in the league nowadays, but the Rays did it to former ace Scott Kazmir. Shields was a “Big Disappointment” all season long and hopefully will not return next season to continue to throw games away. Final grade: D+

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