Is James Shields the weak link in the pitching rotation? – Sports Out West
MLB

Is James Shields the weak link in the pitching rotation?

Mark J. Rebilas/ USA Today Sports

The San Diego Padres’ season has been far from great, and most of their offseason acquisitions have fallen short of expectations. Most notably, starting pitcher James Shields has not lived up to expectations. He was suppose, to be the catalyst to the teams success but has actually contributed to the teams mediocrity.

Currently, Shields is 10-6 with a 3.83 ERA, allowing 28 home runs and striking out 188 batters  in 29 games this season. Those numbers may not seem alarming, but they are clearly not what one would expect from an ace. Shields is the team leader in both wins and strikeouts, however.

The problem is that all the other pitchers in the Padres’ rotation have been trending upward, but Shields hasn’t kept up with the trend. In the last three starts Shields’ has a 4.71 ERA , giving up nine earned runs, four home runs, while issuing 11 walks and 14 strike outs in 17.2 innings pitched.

During the same span Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy have  recorded a combined 2.56 ERA.

Ross: 2.24 ERA 19.1 IP, five earned runs, six walks, and 19 strike outs

Cashner: 3.89 ERA 16.2 IP, seven earned runs, two home runs, five walks, and 18 strike outs

Kennedy: 1.78 ERA 20.2 IP, four earned runs, one home runs, eight walks, and 29 strike outs

What will general manager A.J. Preller do next season? Is it better to trade Shields after one season into his four-year $75 million contract? Or does Preller simply make him compete for his position in the rotation?

Preller will have a lot of thinking to do this coming offseason. Kennedy has been the most dominant pitcher in the rotation during the second half of the season and ideally would like to retain him. Ross and Cashner would be best to keep despite their inconsistencies; they are quality starters and should be considered in the future plans of the club. 

Lastly, from what we saw this season it is clear that Shields is not worthy of ace distinction on the team but will probably be a great number two or three starter. If Preller decides to trade Shields, the team will most likely have to either package him with a few other players to offset his contract or they will need to eat some of the dollars to make it a worthwhile trade. If they retain him and move him down in the rotation it is a clear sign of defeat.

It’s time for Preller to earn his paycheck. 

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Daiki Sato

Daiki Sato a Southern California native and San Diego State Alumni. Loves all things sports. He covers the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Sports Out West.
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