We’ve all heard that there is a mystery team that has put in an offer in the 5 year/$100M range on James Shields, right? Good. I’m going to give both the pros and cons of a potential deal involving Shields coming to the Astros. But first, the facts.
Shields, or “Big Game James” as he is known to some, is a 33-year old right-handed pitcher, most recently of the Kansas City Royals. In his nine-year career, Shields holds a 114-90 record, with a career ERA of 3.72, while averaging right about 212 innings per season. Last year, Shields went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA and threw 227 innings. Over the past four seasons, his average ERA is a much better 3.17.
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Shields is a ground ball pitcher, with a career 1.25 ground ball to fly ball ratio over his career. He has four pitches, and he uses them all. Like most pitchers, his fastball (92.4 mph) is used the most, at a 41.4% clip, but his cutter (86.7 mph, 24.2%), curveball (79.6, 12.5%) and changeup (85.3, 21.9%) get a fair amount of attention as well.
Adding James Shields to the Houston staff makes sense for the obvious reasons. He would give the Astros a fourth quality pitcher, and would protect them against some regression from Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel, who figure to be at or near the top of the rotation.
While his career ERA may not be outstanding, he will become the workhorse on any staff he joins. When he was traded from Tampa to Kansas City, he wanted all of the starters to pitch 200 innings, and to reach 1,000 innings as a staff. He could provide some extra motivation on a young team, with young pitching on the way.
Having Shields on the Astros would take some of the pressure off of Keuchel. Instead of having to face the likes of Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray and Garrett Richards, he would be paired against Hisashi Iwakuma, Derek Holland, Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver.
With Shields eating over 200 innings, the bullpen would log fewer innings, and I think we can all agree that that’s a winning proposition, no matter how optimistic we are about the new acquisitions.
Next: The Cons of Shields in Houston