James Shields
James Shields
37-Year-Old PitcherSP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2019 Fantasy Outlook
In a rebuilding year, the White Sox trotted Shields out there 34 times (33 starts). His 5.09 FIP was the third-worst among qualified starters, but eat innings he did. Shields exceeded 200 frames for the 10th time in his career and for the first time since 2015, and that volume alone actually gave Shields some value in certain H2H points formats. The skills have eroded greatly over the past several years; Shields' K-BB rate has fallen below 10% in each of the past three seasons while his HR/9 rates have ranged from 1.50 to 2.08 in that time. He is averaging a mere six wins per season over the past three years, and what was Shields' one above-average pitch, his curveball, saw a big decline in quality last season. Shields' team option was predictably declined, and while another rebuilding team may bring him aboard to start, it's difficult to see the results improving much at all. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a four-year, $75 million contract with the Padres in February of 2015. Traded to the White Sox in June of 2016.
Heads to free agency
PFree Agent  
October 29, 2018
The White Sox declined Shields' $16 million option for 2019, making him a free agent.
ANALYSIS
As expected, the White Sox opted to exercise their $2 million buyout of the veteran right-hander, who posted a 4.53 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 154:78 K:BB across 204.2 innings. Shields' prior major-league experience should help him find work elsewhere, though his days as a reliable fantasy asset appear to be behind him.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-8%
BAA vs LHP
2019
No Stats
2018
 
 
-23%
BAA vs LHP
2017
 
 
-18%
BAA vs RHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .237 704 127 79 146 28 2 32
Since 2017vs Right .258 683 130 52 160 35 3 29
2019vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018vs Left .214 447 84 48 84 20 1 15
2018vs Right .277 424 70 30 106 21 1 19
2017vs Left .279 257 43 31 62 8 1 17
2017vs Right .228 259 60 22 54 14 2 10
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-23%
ERA at Home
2019
No Stats
2018
 
 
-30%
ERA at Home
2017
 
 
-9%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2017Home 4.24 1.28 182.1 9 12 0 7.3 3.6 1.3
Since 2017Away 5.49 1.46 139.1 3 11 0 7.1 3.8 2.3
2019Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018Home 3.85 1.25 119.1 5 8 0 6.9 3.3 1.0
2018Away 5.48 1.39 85.1 2 8 0 6.5 3.6 2.2
2017Home 5.00 1.33 63.0 4 4 0 7.9 4.0 1.9
2017Away 5.50 1.57 54.0 1 3 0 8.0 4.2 2.3
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring James Shields
Baseball Draft Kit: Building a Winning Pitching Staff
42 days ago
David Regan breaks down his methods for building a winning staff in his article for the 2019 RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Guide.
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210 days ago
Derek VanRiper tees up Tuesday's FanDuel slate, recommending Astros second baseman Jose Altuve on the road up in Toronto.
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210 days ago
Sasha Yodashkin recommends rolling with Red Sox southpaw David Price against visiting Baltimore on Tuesday.
MLB DFS: Tuesday Cheat Sheet
210 days ago
Tuesday's slate of 15 games features a home matchup for Max Scherzer against the Marlins.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
White Sox fans take heed: Shields is in the last year of his four-year, $75 million contract. Shields started three games in April before he hurt his lat, sidelining him until June. At the time, Shields had a 1.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. However, 10 walks and three homers allowed in those initial 16.2 innings was a harbinger of what was to come after he returned. Shields ended the season with an ERA over 5.00 for the second straight season, allowing 27 homers in just 117 innings, walking 53 along the way. His season was mercifully cut a start or two short with knee tendinitis, which required PRP injections. If you're looking for a positive, Shields sported his second-highest swinging-strike rate of the past five seasons. There was a time Shields was a highly skilled, undervalued fantasy asset. Now, he's a glorified pitching coach, playing out the string.
We use history as our guide in baseball, especially when there is a lot of it, but sometimes it just doesn't matter. Shields' days as a stud were clearly behind him even if you believed he'd improve a bit on his 2015, but instead he completely collapsed once he was traded back to the American League. His swinging-strike rate fell to a career low 9.2 percent, while his home run rate surged to a career-high 1.98. There is not a single positive factor in his 114-inning sample with the White Sox. Three years of rising ERA and home run rates render the rest of his profile virtually meaningless. About the only positive thing to say about Shields now is that he will cost literally nothing and will start the year in a big league rotation. In most mixed leagues, you should be able to get him on the waiver wire after the draft, unless you play in one of those reverse leagues where the worst stats are better. In that case, he's a tremendous No. 2 option behind your ace, Jered Weaver.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Shields, a long-time American League stalwart, signed a free agent deal to pitch not only join the National League, but also in one of the best parks for pitchers. So of course he had his worst ERA and WHIP in five years. Homers always seem to be the culprit behind his poor seasons. He allowed 1.5 HR/9 in his disastrous 2010 season during which he posted a 5.18 ERA. It was back at 1.5 again in 2015, but only yielded a 3.91 ERA because 26 of his MLB-high 33 home runs allowed were solo shots (and no three-run or grand slam homers). The most alarming factor from his 2015 was the career-worst walk rate as his 3.6 BB/9 for a guy with a previous high of 2.7. At least he paired it with a career-best 9.6 K/9. Lefties were a major issue (.890, 23 HR), something we’ve never seen before, and the 23 percent HR/FB and 4.8 BB/9 against them look like major outliers. Bet on a solid rebound, even at 34.
The 2014 season was a contract year for "Big Game" James, who set himself up to cash in by posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 34 regular season starts. He relied a bit more on a cut fastball last season than in past years (24.2%), which led to a slightly higher groundball rate (45.2%) and lower K/9 (7.1) than in 2013. Despite the slight shift in focus, Shields actually posted a career-best average fastball velocity of 92.4 mph, proving that he still has plenty left in the tank. Shields signed a four-year deal with the Padres in February, where he'll likely become the team's No. 1 starter in 2015. The move to the National League, and into the most pitcher-friendly environment in baseball should help his numbers across the board.
It had been a long time since the Royals had themselves a dominant No. 1 starter, so when the opportunity to acquire Shields came up, they debated internally for some time but ultimately decided the arm was more necessary than the prospect bat of Wil Myers. General manager Dayton Moore was highly criticized for parting with such a blue-chip prospect, but a seventh straight season of 200-plus innings with 13 wins, a 3.15 ERA and a 191:68 K:BB quickly turned the fan base's opinion around. A bit concerning is Shields' diminished strikeout rate and increased walk rate, as well as the reduction of groundballs induced. Fantasy owners should keep that in mind when making a move for the veteran right-hander this season. While it's not exactly a guarantee that he is on the decline, it does provide an indication that all that usage may be causing him to tire a little more. He should still be viewed as a top starter on draft day, but go in with cautious optimism.
Shields nearly matched his outstanding 2011 campaign last season, finishing with a 15-10 record, 3.52 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 33 starts. He improved his strikeout rate to a career-high 8.8 K/9 and though he posted a higher ERA, his 3.47 FIP is about the same as 2011 (3.42), suggesting 2011 was a little lower ERA than it should have been. Shields is very effective at mixing his impressive repertoire of pitches and working deep into games. He's also been durable, starting at least 31 games and throwing 200 innings in each of his six seasons with the Rays. Traded to Kansas City in a blockbuster deal in December, Shields gets a slight downgrade as a result of losing the benefit of pitching in front of the most efficient defense in baseball.
It's safe to say that 2011 will likely go down as the greatest season in Shields' career. The righty put together career-best numbers across the board, while his 11 complete games were the most in baseball by three games (over Roy Halladay) and his four shutouts tied him for second behind Cliff Lee. Shields has developed an excellent pick-off move to first base finishing with a league-high 12 pick-offs and allowing few stolen bases. Shields was supported by a career-low .258 BABIP, a stark contrast from his .341 mark in 2010 suggesting instead of being unlucky, perhaps a little luck was on his side. A little luck, that is, and some adjustments to his pitch selection. Shields got away from his low-90s fastball, throwing it 10 percent less often and relying more on two of his secondary pitches - his change-up and curveball. The use of these pitches in combination with with his pickoff move led to a career-high 79.6 percent strand rate. Shields' cured his gopheritis allowing eight fewer home runs from the previous season despite throwing an extra 46 innings. This was supported by raising his groundball rate by five percent while lowering his flyball rate by three percent. His spectacular season made picking up his 2012 option an obvious move and he should toe the mound as the Rays' ace come Opening Day. Keep in mind while he's not going to fall off a cliff, expecting him to replicate his 2011 season is likely wishful thinking.
Shields struggled through last season, ending the 2010 campaign with a career-high 5.18 ERA. A case of gopheritis appeared to be the problem as Shields finished second to only Rodrigo Lopez with 34 home runs allowed. Besides the home runs, it's tough to pinpoint the root of his problems. His velocity by a small margin was the best of his career, as was his 8.3 K/9IP rate. One possibility is the league had seen enough of his stuff to start hitting him hard. Shields will reprise his role as a top-half of the rotation starter as he looks to put his 2010 struggles behind him.
Shields had a forgettable season, posting a three-year worst 4.14 ERA and 1.325 WHIP. Manager Joe Maddon was partially to blame for allowing Shields to throw 129 innings prior to the All-Star break. Shields was extremely hittable after the break as evidenced by his second-half ERA (5.16). That being said, he should be in line for a rebound that is more in line with his two previous seasons than his 2009 results.
Shields emerged as an All-Star caliber pitcher in 2008, finishing in the top four in the AL in WHIP for the second straight season. Shields was particularly effective in the second half last year (7-2, 3.21 in 14 starts), had a respectable postseason (2.88 ERA in four starts), and was death to opposing batters at home (9-2, 2.59 in 17 starts at the Trop). Shields and Scott Kazmir will be numbers 1 and 1A, order TBD, in the Rays' rotation again in 2009.
Shields was shut down for the last two weeks of the season (innings limit), but that was a precautionary move, and he'll be ready for spring training. Shields finished third in the AL in both WHIP and walks per nine innings, and only Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia had a higher AL strikeout-to-walk ratio than Shields' 5.1 mark. Despite the Rays' other failings, Shields and Scott Kazmir have become a wicked 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. In Tampa Bay's last eight series of 2007 where both Shields and Kazmir pitched against the same opponent, the Rays either won or split six of those eight series (dropping the other two to Boston). That's what aces are supposed to do for you in a short series; Shields has developed into just such an ace, and a durable one at that.
Shields put up fine numbers at both Double-A in 2005 and Triple-A in 2006. After the Rays called him up, he was impressive at times, but he had a run of starts where he looked great for four innings and had trouble in the fifth. If Shields can learn to make adjustments the third time around the order, he'll be a decent back-of-the-rotation starter for a while. He’ll start the spring in Tampa Bay's rotation.
Probably the best Devil Rays mound prospect that didn't pitch at Rice. Shields had a nice year at Double-A last season, and he followed that up with a great Arizona Fall League stint (2-1, 1.74, 0.81 WHIP in six starts, 29-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 innings). He'll likely start 2006 in Triple-A and could compete for a spot with the big club the following season.
More Fantasy News
Reaches 200 innings
PChicago White Sox  
September 26, 2018
Shields allowed four runs on six hits and four walks while striking out six over six innings in a no-decision Tuesday against the Indians.
ANALYSIS
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Allows two homers in no-decision
PChicago White Sox  
September 20, 2018
Shields pitched six innings Thursday, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks in the win over Cleveland. He struck out one and gave up two home runs in the no-decision.
ANALYSIS
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Hurls six quality innings vs. Baltimore
PChicago White Sox  
September 14, 2018
Shields (7-16) allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out five over six innings Friday, securing the victory against the Orioles.
ANALYSIS
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Burned by Angels
PChicago White Sox  
September 8, 2018
Shields (6-16) took the loss Saturday as the White Sox were routed 12-3 by the Angels, coughing up six runs on nine hits and a walk over 4.1 innings while striking out one.
ANALYSIS
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Tosses six shutout frames
PChicago White Sox  
September 2, 2018
Shields (6-15) pitched six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six as he secured the win Sunday against Boston.
ANALYSIS
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