Monday, July 23, 2007

Player Profile - James Shields

By now, I'm sure you've seen James Shields' pitching line from yesterday's game against the Yankees:

3 1/3 innings
10 H
10 ER
1 HR allowed
4 BB
1 K

Ouch...this one game increased his ERA for the year from 3.91 to 4.44! Every pitcher has a day when he just doesn't have it, but Shields' recent cooling off has me & other fantasy owners a bit concerned - should we be?

Let's take a look at Shields' performance by month:

April - 3.75
May - 2.66
June - 5.57
July - 6.82

April - 0.92
May - 1.06
June - 1.14
July - 1.48

April - 9.25
May - 6.11
June - 8.69
July - 6.28

April - 5.29
May - 3.20
June - 15.50
July - 3.50

He's done a great job to earn 8 wins on the year, since he does play for the Devil Rays (with their 38-60 record). He was also amazingly consistent through his first 13 starts of the year - he lasted 6 1/3 innings or more in each of those games, and allowed a maximum of 5 runs, which he only did once during this period. Over this stretch, he had 6 wins, a 3.05 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, allowing 7.02 H/9, striking out 7.67 /9, and having a 4.61 K/BB ratio...good stuff.

In the 8 starts since, he has failed to make it passed the 6th inning 3 times. His stats over this timeframe are a confusing mix of bad & good - the bad: 7.26 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 11.92 H/9; the good: 7.08 K/9, and a 5.43 K/BB ratio. If you exclude his last shellacking, his control numbers are looking better now than earlier in the year; over 45 innings (7 starts), he has allowed only 3 walks vs. 37 K's (that's right, 3 walks total over 7 starts!), which explains his still above average K/9 & the very impressive K/BB ratio. Something else to note is Shields had a very tough July last year as well, with a 6.49 ERA vs. an ERA in June & August of 3.60 & 2.78, respectively.

Even after his 10 run outing yesterday, Shields still ranks 11th in the majors in WHIP. And even though his strikeout ratio is down during his last few starts, his pinpoint control has continued to impress.

I think this is simply a case of a player coming out of relative obscurity (after a solid, but not overly impressive rookie campaign last year) who had a great start to the '07 season...and with that great start came unrealistic expectations. I certainly think you should keep a close eye on him over his next few starts, but I would not recommend dropping or trading him at this point. I see him continuing to add value in K's & WHIP, although his ERA will likely be more pedestrian from this point out & he probably won't get too many more wins (he plays for the Devil Rays, don't forget). I see him finishing the year around 12 wins, an ERA in the low 4's, with a WHIP close to where it's at today (or slightly lower).

Basically, Shields has turned into a more valuable version of pre-season uber-sleeper Dave Bush of the Brewers (who I'll be discussing in a future column later this week).

Did you know - James went to high school with Baltimore Ravens QB Kyle Boller.

No comments:

Roto Advice © 2008 All Rights Reserved.