If you were expecting to direct a large portion of your rebuild-fueled ire at James Shields this season, well... I was with you. It sure seemed like he was the obvious weakness in the 2018 rotation. The hope was that until the White Sox no longer required Shields’s services, he would at least be able to eat some innings. Well, his eight starts thus far:
3/29 (at KC) – 6 IP, 4 ER
4/5 (vs. DET) – 5 IP, 3 ER
4/11 (vs. TB) – 6⅓ IP, 1 ER
4/20 (vs. HOU) – 5⅓ IP, 7 ER
4/25 (vs. SEA) – 6 IP, 4 ER
5/1 (at STL) – 6 IP, 1 ER
5/6 (vs. MIN) – 6⅔ IP, 3 ER
5/12 (at CHC) – 6 IP, 5 ER
Consider those innings eaten. Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez have each turned in clunkers of two innings or fewer, but Shields has managed to go five or more in every single start. That’s important for a team that’s gotten fewer innings from its starters than any other in baseball.
How he’s managed to do that with a 5.25 K/9 and 4.21 BB/9 is beyond me. The 5.44 ERA is pretty ugly too. He’s also allowed a .382 xwOBA, and he—you know what? Let’s forget about the numbers. We need something to be positive about. This pitching staff stinks worse than Gary, and Shields has been a stabilizer if nothing else.
Tonight’s opposing pitcher is Doug Fister, who’s basically the Rangers’ James Shields. He takes the ball every fifth day and tries to be not-horrible enough to give his team a fighting chance. Never was there such a thrilling matchup of past-their-prime right-handers trying to stay alive with duct tape and pure guile.
Here’s hoping Yoan Moncada gets his groove back against Fister; he’s 1-for-8 with a walk in his two games since coming off the disabled list. His double play partner, Tim Anderson, got last night off after a 13-game stretch of .156/.240/.378.
Most importantly, we’ll get to hear Jason Benetti say “Isiah Kiner-Falefa” a bunch of times.